About this Show

U.S. Senate

News/Business.

NETWORK

DURATION
05:00:00

RATING

SCANNED IN
San Francisco, CA, USA

SOURCE
Comcast Cable

TUNER
Channel 100 (651 MHz)

VIDEO CODEC
mpeg2video

AUDIO CODEC
ac3

PIXEL WIDTH
704

PIXEL HEIGHT
480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Us 69, America 35, Washington 30, United States 25, Madam 21, Cap 12, U.s. 10, Obama 10, Ronald Reagan 10, Mr. Harkin 9, United States Senate 9, Florida 9, Mr. Brown 8, Kansas 7, Wyden 7, Iowa 6, Wyoming 5, Texas 5, Erskine Bowles 4, Massachusetts 4,
Borrow a DVD
of this show
  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    July 21, 2011
    12:00 - 5:00pm EDT  

12:00pm
ask those people, not economists, not people on wall street, not journalists, not professors, not politicians, if you ask people that create jobs what would it take for you to start creating jobs again, what they are looking for is a tax system that's fair and regulations they can comply with and then just get out of their way and they will go do what americans have always done. so those are our ideas. here's the problem. even as we stand here today, there are few plans on the table to do it. i have watched the president give press conferences, i have watched the president give speeches, but i have yet to see a plan from the president. with all due respect to my colleagues here in the senate and the other party, i haven't seen a plan from them either. they are the majority party. they control this chamber. they control the senate. i haven't seen a plan from them. it's really hard to compromise when the other side doesn't have a plan. what do you compromise on? where is your plan? you can't compromise if only one person is offering plans. there is only one plan that has been voted on by any house to
12:01pm
deal with this issue, and it's the one we're on right now, cut, cap and balance. i would submit that if you don't like cut, cap and balance, if you don't think we need to cut spending, cap spending and balance our budget, then show us your alternative. or maybe you do believe we need to cut, cap and balance, but you don't like the way this bill cuts spending, caps spending and balances spending. fine. offer your version of cut, cap and balance. let's get on to the bill the house has passed and if you don't like it, change it. you've got the votes to do it. if you don't like this bill, bring your bill up and amend it. how could you compromise? how could you cold republicans in the house for refusing to compromise if you don't have a plan of your own? how can you compromise if you don't have any ideas of your own? it's not a fair thing to say. and so i would urge the leadership of this chamber and the president of the united states to offer their ideas on paper. put your ideas on paper and offer them so we can begin to work on this concept of
12:02pm
compromise that you've offered. because you can't compromise and you can't negotiate with people that will not offer a plan. let's get -- why don't you vote to proceed to cut, cap and balance? proceed to this bill so we could have a debate on this bill and so you could offer your ideas on this bill. this is the perfect opportunity to do it. let's stop negotiating in the media and through press conferences and start doing it here on this floor, which is what people sent us here to do. and i hope that that's what will happen. mr. president, i'll yield the floor and i'll note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call: ?
12:03pm
12:04pm
the presiding officer: the senator from ohio.
12:05pm
mr. brown: thank you, madam president. i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, madam president. as we debate the best way to get our fiscal house in order, we must avoid, first of all, defaulting on our obligations while also working to make our economy stronger. while our debt has been rising for several decades, there's enough blame to go around. it's been exacerbated by the economic crisis that has turned taxpayers all too often, workers and taxpayers into collectors of unemployment insurance, housing assistance, health care assistance. we must not forget that the economic crisis was brought on by a financial crisis that pulled the economy into a deep recession. some people in this chamber, some conservative politicians in washington might like to forget that this financial crisis ever happened but throughout the united states in places like cleveland and dayton and chillicothe and zanesville, fast-talking mortgage brokers steered americans into unfair
12:06pm
loans that helped put the economy on the brink of collapse, costing millions of americans their homes and their jobs. while wall street's regained its footing, millions of americans are still struggling to find jobs, stay in their homes, afford health coverage. businesses are struggling to access credit so they can hire new workers. thankfully, a year ago today, the president signed wall street reform, landmark legislation aimed at providing consumers with protection from abusive rates and fees and penalties in mortgages and credit cards. the centerpiece of the bill -- one of the centerpieces of this bill is the creation of the consumer financial protection bureau aimed at giving consumers a voice as loud and as powerful as wall street. frankly, something this city's not used to. richard cordray will be that voice. richard cordray is one of ohio's most talented public servants who is strongly committed to protecting ohio consumers and investors. as ohio's attorney general, he
12:07pm
was a strong voice for ohioans who struggled during these tough times to stay in their homes. consumers who faced unfair practices from wall street banks who had deceived consumers. he has targeted institutions including fannie mae that hid material information from investors, in the process undermining pension funds that provide retirement security for teachers and secretaries and police officers and janitors. coming from ohio, he's seen firsthand how unscrupulous actors steered americans into unfair subprime loans that helped push the economy to the brink of collapse, costing millions of americans their homes and their jobs. rich cordray took on the unscrupulous actors but he also worked closely with ohio banks, and ohio banks are supporting his nomination as head of the consumer financial protection bureau because he played it straight and played it fair. he worked closely with them to
12:08pm
promote financial literacy, to craft effective, targeted legislation distinguishing traditional banks -- those that lend and those that are, in fact, the lifeblood of any economy -- from those banks engaged -- those companies or wall street institutions engaged in predator lending -- predatory lending and other institutions. as he's been throughout his career, which will be a strong voice for consumers at the consumer financial protection bureau as it carries out its mission. it's a mission of bringing oversight and transparency to checking accounts and credit cards and mortgages and student loans and ensuring that our financial system continues to support job creation. the consumer financial protection bureau's already starting to make a difference. it's working to make sure that credit card terms and loan contracts are written in ways that people can understand in plain english. it's earned rave reviews from industry and consumer groups alike for the substance and the process involved in creating a new model mortgage loan
12:09pm
disclosure form. the consumer product financial protection biewr very helping our men and -- bureau is helping our men and women in uniform, preventing them from being targeted by bad actors. and you can see them like vultures surrounding military bases, as they do at wright pratt air force base in dayton and other places, preventing them from being targets -- preventing soldiers from being targeted by these bad actors committing fraud and engaging in deceptive financial practices. when rich was attorney general in my state of ohio, he was the first state attorney general to take on unscrupulous bankers, to sue a mortgage lender over foreclosure fraud. through his efforts, he self-recovered billions of dollars for ohioans. i'm proud to work with him to identify financial predators that prey on homer owners facing foreclosure. when he was ohio pressure, he worked across party lines to strengthen ohio's finances. besides being a whiz at jeopardy, -- he was a five-time winner -- rich is a great human being and a devoted family man. the challenges he'll face in his new position are great. i know he'll be strengthened by his wife peggy, and his twins,
12:10pm
holly and danny. madam president, i -- i urge my colleagues to support rich cordray to be head of the new consumer financial protection bureau. it will help consumers. it will help banks. it will help our economy for him to assume that position. madam president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. brown: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: i then ask unanimous consent that any time during the quorum call -- during the quorum
12:11pm
be divided equally between the two parties. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: madam president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
12:12pm
12:13pm
12:14pm
12:15pm
12:16pm
12:17pm
12:18pm
12:19pm
12:20pm
12:21pm
12:22pm
12:23pm
12:24pm
mr. wyden: i would ask unanimous consent, madam president, to vacate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: madam president and colleagues, i have been struck in the discussion about cut, cap and balance, there has been virtually no mention, virtually no mention of the number-one issue on the minds of the american people, and that is jobs. what we need above anything else
12:25pm
is creating more good-paying jobs, and in this discussion about cut, cap and balance, the whole question of jobs has virtually not come up at all, madam president. now, what we know is between the worst of this fiscal crisis and the end of 2010, we lost 8.5 million jobs and our country's only recovered a small portion of those jobs, and the fact is many of those new jobs that have been created don't pay as much as the jobs that have been lost. we also know that millions of our people can't find full-time work and they have had to settle for part-time jobs to make ends meet. cut, cap and balance virtually ignores that question. i hear, for example, madam president, from our business community. they have a very serious
12:26pm
challenge in terms of generating sales. sales are all about middle-class folks coming into our stores and in a consumer-driven economy making purchases. as we have seen a number of times, david lionhart particularly over the weekend, an excellent piece in "the new york times" described how in one area after another in terms of consumer durable goods, middle-class folks have essentially walked off the economic playing field. now, madam president, there is, in fact, one particular approach to job creation that has a proven track record, a proven track record, bipartisan support and one that i hope that the congress will soon move to. i find that we have plenty of
12:27pm
disagreements now in the congress on a whole host of issues, but whether you're part of the warner-chambliss group or any other particular group, there is a sense that even though cut, cap and balance doesn't talk about it, job creation is the most important issue. and the path to that, the proven path to that, madam president, is tax reform. the fact is that is the one unused tool in the economic tool shed. the federal reserve has thrown tremendous efforts at trying to boost the economy. the recovery act was passed, various steps have been taken with respect to housing. tax reform is the one area that has not yet from the economic
12:28pm
tool shed been picked up and actually used, and i think the country understands what needs to be done, certainly the congress. we had the report from the bush commission, george w. bush made a number of excellent recommendations in their commission. the volcker commission for president obama had a number of sensible ideas. i have had the pleasure of working with two very thoughtful colleagues on the other side of the aisle, senator gregg before he retired and now senator coats, and we have picked up on the model that populist democrats and former president ronald reagan pursued in the early 1980's. it was all about cleaning out scores of special interest tax breaks, using that money to hold down rates for everybody and keep progressivity.
12:29pm
but the reason i bring it up this afternoon, madam president, in the context of the fact that i sure don't see any mention of cut, cap and balance focusing on jobs is when democrats and ronald reagan got together, the results on job creation were real, they were tangible and we saw middle-class people get a chance to get back into the economy and get back to work. according to the bureau of labor statistics, madam president, in the two years after democrats and ronald reagan got together, got together on a bipartisan basis to focus on job creation, our country created 6.3 million new jobs. 6.3 million new jobs between 2001-2008 when tax policy was bipartisan, we only created about three million jobs. we have lost jobs in this last
12:30pm
fiscal crisis, looking particularly at the measure that i cited at the end of 2010. so we have got to get people back to work. and, madam president, i see my friend from iowa here, we have talked about tax reform on a number of occasions. let me just cite an example of an approach that senator coats, a republican, and i have teamed up on. we take away the tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas. right now, there are a huge array of tax breaks for in effect exporting jobs when the country wants to export goods states where we add value to them in the united states and then we ship them somewhere. what senator coats and i propose is taking away those tax breaks for exporting jobs and using those dollars for what i call,
12:31pm
senator harkin, red, white and blue jobs, jobs that pay a good wage here in the united states so we can get full-time employment for some of the folks who are so hard-hit now and can't find more than 15, 20 hours of work a week, doesn't pay a good wage and they can't support a family. cut, cap and balance doesn't raise those kinds of issues, it doesn't raise the fact that when we put people back to work, good-paying jobs here in this country, that generates revenue, madam president, that democrats and republicans alike can support. senator harkin, i know you have focused particularly on this question of where the revenue is going to come from to pay for our safety net with so many people hurting and falling between the cracks. tax reform that puts middle-class people back to wo work, as we saw when democrats
12:32pm
like dick gephardt and former president reagan got together, that generates revenue that both sides can support. private-sector job growth that puts folks back to work and gets the middle class consumer back into the economy and back into our stores. you look, for example, at the bipartisan proposal senator coats and i have, the typical middle-class person, the typical middle-class person can get $3,000, $4,000 worth of tax relief under our proposal, not by raising the deficit, not by spending more money but by closing out some of these special interest loopholes. where is that consumer going to go? they'll have a chance in a consumer driven economy to go back in the stores, maybe they'll buy a washing machine, maybe they'll buy a computer for their kid. they'll go back into the economy and help, as we have seen time and time again over our history,
12:33pm
help to get our country back on its feet by middle-class people who have good-paying jobs going back into the marketplace and helping our economy grow. the numbers, madam president, are striking. again, after democrats like dick gephardt got together with ronald reagan, in the thee years after those -- in the three years after those reforms in the middle 1980's, federal tax receipts for individuals and corporations rose by $13 $137 billion. that is the kind of revenue raising approach, madam president, that democrats and republicans alike can support but you don't hear a word about job growth in the private sector under cut, cap and balance. you hear a lot of technical, you know, terms about whether federal spending ought to be 19.9% of gross domestic product or should it be 20% or 21%.
12:34pm
those are important issues, but to their credit, madam president, one economist after another has made it clear that we don't get to economic recovery in this country just by cutting. we're going to have to do some growing. colleagues, we're going to have to do some growing. and to me, to be out on the floor talking about cut, cap and balance and not paying any attention to a tax code that is a job killer rather than a job creator for what i call red, white and blue jobs here in this country, just seems to be a mistaken set of priorities. the reality is, senator coats and i have made clear in offering our bill, the tax code is larded down with so many special interest goodies and sweetheart deals -- and i just touched on one, that we would
12:35pm
actually be rewarding the export of good american jobs -- what we ought to be doing is taking away these foolish tax breaks and creating ones that get the middle class back into the economy and get our companies investing in our country. now, madam president, it does not take a constitutional amendment to do what dick gephardt, ronald reagan, dan rostenkowski, bob packwood and a whole host of democrats and republicans got together to do in the 1980's. it requires democrats and republicans to work together to take on the special interests that currently benefit from the broken tax system. and make no mistake about it, madam president and colleagues, those special interest groups are taking tax breaks that ought to instead go for real relief for hard-hit middle-class families and american business to create jobs here in this
12:36pm
country. now, madam president, i see colleagues on the floor and i just want to wrap up with one last point briefly. i would not say for a second that tax reform is the only component of economic recovery. senator blunt is here, and as chairman of the trade subcommittee on the finance committee, we've worked very closely together on another important trade issue. what we've seen -- and i know senator harkin is interested in this -- the chinese have essentially been involved in merchandise laundering, some companies. what they have done after they've been found guilty of violating our trade laws, instead of changing their practices and complying with the trade laws, some of these chinese outfits essentially go to another country and export through that country, put on, for example, "made in korea" -- big implications with these trade agreements -- and end up
12:37pm
shipping those goods to the united states. and senator blunt and his constituents have made the correct point that that's, again, taking away jobs from middle-class folks. but we have got to get back here on the floor of the united states senate to the issue of jobs. that's the most important question for our constituents, madam president. staff told me on the way over here that a recent survey of businesses cites again their number-one concern, that sales are going down in their stores. and i think everybody here in the senate knows you can often go to a store on a weekend or an evening and you see hardly anybody there because middle-class people are very worried about what's ahead and simply because of these economic times do not have the money to go in and buy those goods and arrange for those services that in an economy that requires they be in the marketplace, they
12:38pm
simply don't have the resources for it. so i hope my colleagues will oppose cut, cap and balance. i hope they'll see that the number-one issue in the country is jobs. tax reform has a proven track record, colleagues, a proven track record. 6.3 million new jobs in the two years after ronald reagan, a conservative president, and dick gephardt, a populist democrat, got together, conserve republican president, a populist, you know, democrat. that's the tool that we ought to take out of the economic tool shed and use as quickly as possible. i hope we'll move on certainly to tax reform in -- in the fall, and i hope colleagues will remember that as we have this discussion about cut, cap and balance. i think it misses the central question of our time which is job creation and for that reason
12:39pm
i oppose the bill. madam president, colleagues are on the floor, and with that, i'd yield. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. wicker: i thank the president for recognizing me and will -- mr. blunt: thank you, madam president. i will look forward to the remarks of my good friend from iowa. i agree with the central premise of what mr. wyden had to say. i think that job creation should be, private-sector job creation should be the number-one target for the country today. and, frankly, any time we're not talking about that or what we can do about spending, we're talking about the two -- the wrong two domestic issues. i would suggest, however, that it's not like the option today was to bring that bill he described to the floor, and i'd love to see it on the floor. i'd love to see a simpler, fairer, flatter, more easily understood tax code because i do think that certainty is one of the things that makes a
12:40pm
difference in that decision to invest. but i absolutely agree that the number-one priority for the country at this minute should be private-sector job creation. and i look forward, as he does, to working on that. my only fault i'd find with the premise that that's not the reason to talk about this is that's not what we were going to be talking about otherwise. in fact the week we were going to spend here that was supposed to be the work week during the 4th of july, the bill that the majority brought to the floor was the libya resolution, which i haven't seen since. that was the week we were here to do something about spending and that's why we didn't do the other things we had scheduled, because we were going to talk about spending, and the bill that the majority was going to bring to the floor was the libyan resolution, which was the most important thing in the world apparently that day, and we haven't seen it since that day. and so while i agree that job creation matters, i don't agree that it doesn't matter how much the federal government spends. in fact, i think there's a lot
12:41pm
of difference in a country where the federal government's spending $1 out of every $4 that the country can produce in goods and services or $1 out of $5. and now we're spending $1 out of $4. for 40 years before 2008, we spent $1 out of $5. and in 2008, we didn't spend the average of 20.6%, we spent 19%. so we've got from 19% of g.d.p. spent by the federal government to 25% of g.d.p. spent by the federal government and it matters, and that's why spending is the other issue. and what we're talking about with cut, cap and balance is how do we get that spending under control. and if there's a better plan, i'd be glad to see it but i don't see a plan on spending control coming from anywhere else. we all know that we now have a record debt of almost $15 trillion, it's $14.3 trillion and counting.
12:42pm
we all know that we've spent approximately $ 7.3 trillion and added almost $4 trillion to that debt since the senate and president obama passed the last budget that the country had 18 -- 813 days ago. we all know that unemployment has increased to -- has increased by 18% since january of 2009. and in the 29 months since then, despite the so-called stimulus package, unemployment has been over 8% every month for 29 months and it was 9.2% in the month of june. and we also all know that 40 cents ut out of every dollar the government spends is borrowed, and we just can't continue to do
12:43pm
that. and one option might be is to raise taxes and think that that 40 cents might come in. i'm not for that because i don't think higher tax rates necessarily produce more tax revenues. during -- until 1981, for 50 years, the highest tax rates had been 70%, 80%, or 90%, and people don't pay that tax rate. people definitely don't take a chance and invest in that tax rate. but the thing that we know maybe most of all is we can't keep doing what we're doing now. the status quo is both unacceptable and unsustainable and we have to look at what it takes, as senator wyden said, to meet the number-one priority, which is what do we do that creates private-sector jobs. and i think that getting federal spending under control is of something that the moment -- the moment of august 2 creates an opportunity for us to talk about and do. now, why was i one of the first
12:44pm
cosponsors of cut, cap and balance? because i thought it had the potential and i believe it has the potential to do what needs to be done. what was cut? cut was to go back not to 1980 spending levels, to go back with non-defense discretionary to 2006. just to go back to what we were spending on non-defense discretionary in 2006, rearrange that as you may want to, rearrange that in a way that better meets 2011 goals but go back to that amount of money. and to cap, to then set caps, and, by the way, they were in virtually all cases growing caps in various categories of government spending, for the next ten years and work within those caps. but know every year what we were going to spend. and then the third element was let's balance the budget. and while i've always been for the balanced budget and a balanced budget amendment, i believe now more than i ever
12:45pm
have that it is the tool that ensures not just five years from now but 55 years from now that we just have to simply get the resources of government and the spending of government in place. 49 states including my state, including missouri have a balanced budget amendment. every family at some point or another has to deal with the reality of a balanced budget amendment, and these provisions take us in the right direction. now, president obama has said he'd veto this bill if it passed. it's already passed the house. if it would pass the senate this week, i don't know that the president would veto it if he really was faced with those options, but he said he would. i guess we might have to test that, but we shouldn't not vote for this because the president said he is going to veto it. we should vote for this because it is the right thing to do to get the spending of the federal government under control.
12:46pm
missourians deserve better, americans deserve better. both parties no doubt have contributed to where we are right now in our current economic situation. and, frankly, madam president, both parties have to find a way out. it takes three things to pass a bill in washington. it takes the house of representatives, it takes the senate and it takes the white house for a bill to become law. my party, the republican party, controls one of those. our friends on the other side control the other two. so how do any of us think we're going to get everything we want in this environment but we have to work toward the right result? i think cut, cap and balance would produce that result. i think we do have to get on the work of being focused on what do we do to create private sector jobs and what do we do to get this spending under control? american families have to deal with this all the time. it's time that their government dealt with it as well. i don't want to settle for
12:47pm
business as usual. we have a unique opportunity here. are we going to be like everybody else? are we going to be like greece and ireland and portugal and italy and so many countries in the world today or are we going to set a different path, a path that shows that we're prepared to control and rein in federal spending and do what's necessary to encourage private job sector growth. i hope we can join together and find a solution. this is the moment we need to do it. madam president, i'm looking forward to working with you and others, and i know i'm yielding the floor now to my good friend, mr. harkin, from iowa. we're working together on the missouri river working group. we're sponsoring legislation together for special olympics. we can find solutions to these problems if we want to find solutions, and that's what the people we work for deserve. let's find a way forward. for me, the way forward would be cut, cap and balance, but i do know that we all have to work
12:48pm
together or we're not going to arrive at any conclusion. i would yield the floor. mr. harkin: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: madam president, i listened both to senator wyden and to senator blunt's remarks. both very thoughtful individuals, thoughtful senators, both of whom i enjoy working with. madam president, first i ask unanimous consent that greg grubel of my staff be granted floor privileges for the duration of today's proceedings. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: so, madam president, why are republicans refuse to go agree to raise the debt ceiling, something that we have done 89 times since the 1930's, including 18 times under president reagan. 18 times under president reagan.
12:49pm
when i might point out that republicans controlled the white house and the senate and the democrats controlled the house. also, in september of 1987, president ronald reagan used his weekly radio address to urge congress to increase the debt ceiling. he said, and here it is. i thought it was worth printing out. here is the exact words of ronald reagan spoken in september of 1987. "unfortunately, congress consistently brings the government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. this brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on social security and veterans benefits. interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the federal deficit would soar. the united states has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations." and president reagan went on --
12:50pm
i didn't put it on here -- he said, "it means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility, two things that set us apart from the rest of the world." ronald reagan said that. well, today so many of our friends on the other side, the republicans, they constantly invoke ronald reagan as a role model, almost kind of a patron saint. i wish they would heed his words and what he said in september of 1987. i would also remind my colleagues that when president reagan realized that his 1981 tax cuts were resulting in large deficits, president reagan turned right around and supported corrective income tax increases in 1982 and 1984. that's right. president reagan supported income tax increases in 1982 and 1984. in stark contrast to president
12:51pm
reagan's example, today's republicans reject any surprise that requires raising any new revenues from the wealthy. now, one of the things we're basically talking about is eliminating tax expenditures. those are special interest tax breaks that even senator coburn on the republican side described as quote corporate welfare "end quote. as the distinguished chairman of the budget committee said in his remarks earlier today, he pointed out that senator conrad pointed out that tax expenditures now total more than than $1 trillion. more than all of our discretionary appropriations in the federal budget. well, now here's the difference. the discretionary appropriations for the most part go out for things like health and education and research, transportation, security, police, the judiciary,
12:52pm
it goes out for that. what do tax expenditures go out for? it goes out to support the wealthy, and here's why i say that. the wealthiest 1% of americans get 26% of the benefits from these tax expenditures. that's what senator conrad pointed out this morning. so, madam president, many of our republican friends are perfectly willing, indeed eager, to slash medicare, social security, medicaid, education, other programs that undergird the middle class, but they have made it clear they would rather default on the debt than agree to a compromise that requires shared sacrifice from the most privileged people in this country. the legislation before us, this legislation before us, which is called cut, cap and balance, and which should be more fairly described, as senator conrad and others have said as cut, cap and kill medicare, it would
12:53pm
enshrine, this bill that's before us now would enshrine in the constitution a requirement that it would require two-thirds vote to raise revenues. 51% could cut anything, could cut spending, but it would take two-thirds to raise any revenues. now, what does that mean? it means as a practical matter, a practical matter that it would permanently lock in the benefits of the current tax breaks for the wealthy. like the outrageous 15% tax rate for hedge fund billionaires and by building a firewall to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest americans, this legislation would shift even more of the burden of deficit reduction onto the backs of middle-class americans. so again it really -- it should be titled cut, cap and kill medicare. that's what it's all about. now, let me take it just a step
12:54pm
further. now, in this bill before us that was passed over here from the house, it would take -- it would cap federal expenditures at 18% of g.d.p., 18%. now, where did they get that number? is that just an arbitrary number? why is that 18.5%? why isn't it 19%? why is it 18%? i'll tell you why. that number has a purpose. the last time federal spending was at 18% of g.d.p. was 1966, right before medicare kicked in. and started expanding. so guess what? they want to roll it back to a point in time before we had medicare. well, this assault now on medicare comes on the heels of another republican assault on medicare. you may remember the republican budget, the so-called ryan budget. what was its centerpiece?
12:55pm
a plan to dismantle medicare, replace it with a voucher system that would require seniors to spend $6,400 additional money out of pocket for medicare every year. it was basically dismantling of medicare, turning it into a voucher system. that was the republican budget. well, so now we kind of have a two-front assault on medicare by the republicans. one is the ryan budget, kind of a frontal assault, if you will, to dismantle it, turn it into a voucher system, and now we have this balanced budget so-called amendment that takes an incorrect back-door approach. it would simply defund medicare. it would put the federal government in a fiscal straitjacket, allow it to spend no more than what we did in the mid 1960's before medicare started. that's why it's at 18%.
12:56pm
now, i will also say that this legislation before us is also a direct assault on social security. the bedrock of our american retirement system. vitally important to the middle class of america. ensure that seniors are able to enjoy their retirement years without falling into poverty or moving in with their kids. social security's modest benefit, around $14,000 a year, now has become the biggest source of retirement for two out of every three adult americans, retired americans. so -- >> would the senator yield for just a moment? mr. harkin: i would be glad to yield. mr. brown: i'm sorry i'm late. madam president, thank you. i have heard what you were saying about medicare, and it just seemed -- am i right about this? i know what some conservative politicians in this town think about medicare because you have been through the discussions when they have -- you know, when medicare -- well, you weren't
12:57pm
here then, of course, but 1965 when medicare passed, it was a lot of conservative republicans that opposed it, and the first chance -- i was in the house then, you were in the senate, but the first chance that speaker gingrich with the new republican majority had in the mid 1990's, they tried to privatize. remember speaker gingrich talked about it withering on the vine. so am i right here that they tried this ryan budget, the republican budget, they tried to privatize medicare again. the public so rose up against it a few months ago, is this sort of a back-door way of going after medicare? they don't want to acknowledge to their constituents they don't like medicare because 90% or some of americans like medicare and benefit from it. is this sort of a back-door approach to put these limits on spending so it will sort of force the privatization and the unraveling of medicare and ultimately social security and all these programs we care about? mr. harkin: i think my friend from ohio has put his finger on
12:58pm
it. of course it is. it's a back-door approach. we all want to have surpluses, we don't want to have deficit spending, so it sounds good, we'll balance the budget. most people say it's a good idea, let's do that, without looking behind this cap that they have put in there of this 18%. 18% is a number picked by the republicans because that would take us back to where we were in 1966 before medicare kicked in, so it would throttle a back-door approach as a way of defunding medicare and also as a way of getting at social security, of moving it to privatization, which the republicans have never given up on. they started under gingrich, my friend is right. i can remember them talking about privatizing the social security. they have never given up on that. they can't do it frontally, but they are trying to do it through the back door. mr. brown: senator harkin, if you would yield again. imagine what would happen if in 2003 and 2004 with you in the senate with a lot of people, including a lot of republicans all over the country, but not
12:59pm
elected republicans, if they had -- when we were fighting the privatization of social security in 2005 -- 2004, 2005, imagine what would have happened if so much of social security had been turned over to wall street. just imagine what would have happened if in 2005 all these people -- people would have put all this money in wall street instead of in their secure lockbox, if you will, social security fund where nobody is missing social security payments, people know what they are going to get, it's predictable, it's always there and always will be. we put it in these private accounts and there goes the predictability and the solidness of social security, right? mr. harkin: another thing we ought to think about, i say to senator brown, is this. what the republicans are saying, there are a lot of republicans who don't care if we default. they don't care if we default. in fact, michelle bachmann, congresswoman bachmann who is one of the frontrunners for
1:00pm
their presidency, said she would never vote to increase the debt ceiling no matter the circumstances. well, as president reagan said in 1987, it would mean that -- that those who rely on social security and veterans benefits wouldn't get their social security checks, and that's exactly right. people have to think about this. we default, that means that all the people who have put their money into social security in the past, what they are saying is you may have put your money in there, and guess what? we're not going to pay you.ñ ist what we want to do in the country? social security is backed by the full faith and credit of the united states government. wall street can go under. you're right, if we would have put enthat social security in the stock market, it would be in the toilet now. but we've put it into u.s. government bonds because it's backed by the full faith and credit of the united states government. and that's why we have to support social security. that's why we can't support this cockamamie scheme of theirs that
1:01pm
they're trying to do here. i thank my -- my friend from ohio for pointing those things out. it really is a backdoor assault on medicare and on social security. now, you know, people are saying about, well, social security, we've got to shore up social security. well, it's sound for about the next 20-some years but looking ahead, yes, we should shore up social security and one good way to do it is to raise the cap on social security taxes. well, right now the cap is $10 $106,00 a year. what does that -- $106,800 a year. what does that mean? that means if you make up to $106,000 a year, you pay in to social security on every dollar that you earn. if you make over that, you don't. well, let me put it another way. if you make $50,000 a year, you
1:02pm
pay on every dollar you earn in to social security. if you make $500,000 a year, you only pay on every 20 cents of every dollar you earn into social security. why is that fair? why is that fair that someone who makes $50,000 a year pays on every dime they earn, every dollar they earn but someone who makes $500,000 a year only pays on 20 cents on the dollar? you want to shore up social security? raise the cap on payroll taxes. raise the cap. and that's something that no one's talking about. what are they talking about? cut benefits. cut the benefits. well, we don't have to cut social security benefits, in no way. we just have to make it fairer in terms of how we raise the payroll taxes. as i said earlier, the -- the bill before us would require a two-thirds vote before we could even change that. so if we wanted to raise the cap
1:03pm
on payroll taxes on social security, it would require a two-thirds vote. that means we'd never get it done. that means that, yes, then at some point we'd probably have to start reducing social security benefits. so, again, as the senator from ohio pointed out, this is a backdoor approach to dismantling social security. well, mr. president, the republicans are rejecting any notion of shared sacrifice. they demand that we dismantle medicare, slash social security, slash education, cut infrastructure, all those things that undergird the middle class. they shred the safety net for the most vulnerable people in our society, as senator wyden pointed out earlier. but they insist on shielding -- shielding -- the wealthiest people in our society from even contributing one dollar -- one dollar -- to the mess that we're in.
1:04pm
well, lastly, mr. president, why are so many people here, to pick up on what senator wyden said earlier, why are so many people here so obsessed, obsessed with deficit reduction to the exclusion of the single largest priority we should have in this country: putting people back to work? that's the most urgent deficit that we have is the jobs defic deficit. senator wyden spoke eloquently about that. now, my friend from missouri, senator blunt, talked about that too. he talked about private-sector employment. well, something's got to happen to get that moving. it's not giving more tax breaks to the wealthy. that old trickle-down theory? we tried that. it never worked. never worked. all these big tax cuts that we gave to the wealthy, that happened under george bush and a
1:05pm
republican congress and look what the mess it got us into. we've been losing jobs for the last several years, going overseas with our jobs, put us in a huge budget deficit. i would say that one of the things we need to do now is not to turn a chain saw on ourselv ourselves -- is not to turn a chainsaw on ourselves but to recognize that the federal government can be a powerful force for stimulating the private sector. again, one of the things i think we need to do is to put more money in the infrastructure of this country. we need to rebuild our roads and our highways, our bridges, our sewer and water systems. we've got hundreds of billions of dollars needed to remodel and upgrade our schools all over america. we need a new electric grid, a smart grid. we need to be putting more into green energy so we won't be
1:06pm
importing so much oil into this country. there's only one place that has the power to focus on that in a large, comprehensive way and that's the federal government. but then people say, well, we can't do that, we can't afford it, we don't have any money. well, they're right. so there's two ways that we can get this wheel go -- these wheels of our economy going again. we can either borrow the money or we can raise the revenue. i would prefer we raise the revenue. there's plenty of it out there. the businesses in america are sitting on over i've heard anywhere from a trillion to $2 trillion that they're not investing. well, if they're not investing it, i know where to invest it. let's put it out there rebuilding the infrastructure of america. now, that's not the government doing the work, it's simply the government providing the input so that the private sector can
1:07pm
go to work. it's not the government -- there's not government workers out there that would be building the roads and brinlz and highways -- roads and bridges and highways, would be remodeling our schools or building the new electric grid. no, this is the private sector doing it. but we can marshal the forces from the federal government, marshal the power to focus the funds in that direction to rebuild america, to make it a more energy efficient, a better educated, a more innovative, technologically competent future for our kids and grandkids. and then once we started doing that, then other elements of the private sector will take off because they will see that we have made a commitment to the future, a commitment to the future growth -- growth -- growth of this country. not a dismantling, not a
1:08pm
withdraw, not a shrinking, but, as senator wyden said, a growth. and once the private sector sees that we have made a national commitment to growth, they'll start investing. how many times do we have to learn that -- that the investment that we've made in infrastructure has spun off into all kinds of private sector entrepreneurship and jobs and new businesses? or research, the money we put into research and how that stimulates the private sector? mr. president, how many times have you heard this old republican line -- i hear it all the time -- the government doesn't create wealth, it consumes wealth? the government doesn't create wealth, it consumes wealth. i hear that all the time. well, that's nonsense. now, just about a month ago or so, mr. president, i had a hearing before my committee, my
1:09pm
committee, the "help" committee, has jurisdiction over the national institutes of health. we had the national institutes of health in, francis collins, who's now the director of it, bringing us up to date on what the n.i.h. was doing. he pointed out something very interesting. some 20 years ago, we began to invest taxpayer money -- your money, taxpayers' dollars -- into something called mapping and sequencing the huma human g, the human genome project. it became the human genome institute at the n.i.h. and they began a -- about a 12-year -- actually, they finished in about 12 years of mapping and sequencing the entire human genome. the batelle institute, a research institute, privately owned, not government, based i think, if i'm not mistaken, in
1:10pm
ohio did a study of this to what happened because of that. we invested $3.8 billion in mapping and sequencing the human gene. 3 $3.8 billion. the batelle institute said in the last eight to ten years, that $3.8 billion of taxpayer money invested in research resulted in over $790 billion of private sector investment. $3.8 billion of taxpayer money, $790 billion of private sector investment. tell me again that the -- that the government can't create wealth? of course it can, because it can marshal the kind of resources that this sector or that sector or that sector can't do. no private entity could have mapped and sequenced the human genome. oh, they probably could have but
1:11pm
it would have taken 40 or 50 years to do it. it took the massive power of the federal government to get it done in a short period of time. so, again, this is what we ought to be thinking about, how do we create jobs, how do we put people back to work. and i say it's by making sure that we have the revenue that we can to invest. we can invest in our infrastructure. and i -- i don't mean just the physical infrastructure. i mean also the human infrastructure. that means education, job training. mr. president, i just saw a figure the other day. this year we are spending, of taxpayers' money, we're spending $14 billion this year training iraqi and afghanistani security forces. training. $14 billion this year. yet here in america, for all of our job strange and retraining
1:12pm
programs for -- job training and retraining programs for the entire country, all job training programs, we're spending less than $10 billion. do you think the american people think that's wise? they don't know this. $14 billion in iraq and afghanistan to train the security forces, less than $10 billion to retrain our work force for the jobs of the future. well, mr. president, i see others have come on the floor. i'll wrap this up. deficit reduction is important. i'm not saying it isn't. but it is not the single-most important thing right now. the single-most important thing is to put people back to work. that will, as senator wyden said earlier, start to create the demand. it will spur more private investment as the federal government begins to invest in the future of this country. that's where we ought to be focusing on. once we get the wheels going again, once we get people back to work and the economy start to
1:13pm
to -- starts to grow, that's when we start to reduce the deficit. to just focus on deficit reduction right now to the exclusion of putting people back to work reminds me of when doctors used to put leaches on people who were ill. it only made them more ill because it drained more blood out of their system. and most times proved fatal, as it did to our first president, george washington. our urgent, number-one priority must be to create jobs and put people back to work. we don't -- we shouldn't just turn a chainsaw on ourselves. i look at this republican cap -- cut, cap and kill medicare proposal we have before us and what i see is a budget predicated on fatalism, fatalism and fear of the future. we need a budget that is predicated on hope and aspirations and putting our people back to work.
1:14pm
so put the ideology aside, come together in a spirit of compromise for the good of this country to have a balanced package, a balanced. spending cuts that will take place in the mid and outer ranges of our years, revenue increases now so that we can take that money and start putting people back to work, rebuilding both the human infrastructure and the physical infrastructure of this country. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i want to spea speak -- mr. harkin: mr. president, may i ask my friend to yield just for one of those deals we've got to do around here. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the time from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the motion to proceed to h.r. 2560 be equally divided between the majority leader and the republican leader or their
1:15pm
designees and that senators be permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: i thank my friend from texas. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i want to speak in favor of the cut, cap and balance legislati legislation. i plan to vote "yes" on saturday morning to proceed to this bill and i urge my colleagues to do likewise. but i'd also like to explain why i think that's important. most of us understand what this bill does. it cuts spending next year by more than $100 billion. these are real savings and not smoke and mirrors. it caps total federal spending as a percentage of the economy and it puts us on a path to keep spending to 19.9% of our gross domestic product. right now, our federal spending is at 25% of the gross domestic product. our revenues are at 15%, roughly, and so there we have a
1:16pm
10% deficit totaling roughly roughly $1.5 trillion this year alone, and of course those cumulative annual deficits make up our debt. now, approximately approximately $14.4 million. this piece of legislation also links an increase in the debt ceiling to passage of a joint resolution to balance the budget, and this is an important amendment to the constitution that's being proposed. we have amended the constitution, i believe, 27 times so far and this is the process that the framers of our constitution have embodied in the original document to allow congress and the american people to amend the constitution as circumstances change, and clearly it's obvious to anyone who will look and pay attention that congress has shown itself
1:17pm
unable to constrain its spending to live within our means, to spend only the money we have as opposed to money we borrow from future generations. most -- just as importantly, this constitutional amendment, this balanced budget amendment to the constitution is not an extraordinary thing. it may be for the federal government, but 49 different states operate under a balanced budget requirement. i support the cut, cap and balance legislation because it meets the three primary criteria that i'm using to evaluate proposals to -- related to the debt ceiling, and those three criteria are, number one, we must not default. that's not an option. and i would say we must not also lose the federal government's credit rating, aaa credit rating. secondly, we must not increase the tax burden on job creators
1:18pm
during a fragile economic recovery. this is not just my position, this was the president's position last december when the expiring tax provisions were extended for two more years. and third, we cannot resort to smoke and mirrors in the hopes of somehow fooling either the credit rating agencies or the american people that we're serious about the spending problem that washington clearly has. cut, cap and balance earned bipartisan support in the house of representatives, and i applaud the courage of those who crossed the aisle to support this legislation in the house. i hope that we see a similar demonstration of bipartisan support for this proposal here in the senate. now, mr. president, i know that there are some of our colleagues on the other side who are dismissive of this piece of legislation. i know the previous speaker, i
1:19pm
wasn't here for most of his comments but i did see his chart. i think he was fairly dismissive of this proposal, but the problem is for those colleagues who are critical of this proposal, my question for them is where is your plan? where's your plan? just to criticize what responsible members of congress are trying to propose as a solution to a problem when you have no plan of your own is irresponsible, in my opinion. well, the house of representatives passed a budget earlier this year, but unfortunately the united states senate, it's been more than 800 days since the senate has adopted a budget. 800 days. that's approaching three years. when asked, the majority leader senator reid said it would be foolish for the senate to pass a budget. i think he was saying that not because he really believes it's foolish to have a budget, but he
1:20pm
thought the political advantage to be gained from -- by attacking the house plan while having nothing to propose on his behalf gained some marginal political advantage. president obama has ignored his own debt mission for months and the debt problem. we know that last december, his fiscal commission, the simpson-bowles commission, rendered a very important report, documenting in sobering detail the debt problem that the federal government has, unfunded entitlements as well as our tax system which is -- which makes very little sense and makes us noncompetitive globally. this is our tax system, our corporate tax system which encourages because it makes economic sense businesses here in the united states to create jobs overseas where it's more efficient, cheaper to do so, where it affects their bottom line in a positive sort of way.
1:21pm
why wouldn't we want to encourage job creators to create jobs here at home by ruing the disincentives and providing an incentive for job creation here in the united states? the president until recently has shown very little interest in that recommendation of his own deficit commission. and then we know the president after -- when he proposed his own budget in february, this is a budget that was never taken up by a democratically controlled senate, either in the budget committee on which i serve or here in the floor. the president's own proposed budget in february would actually make our debt problem worse, not better. that's why when we had a vote on the president's proposed budget here a few weeks ago, not because our democratic friends proposed it and brought it up for a vote but because our side of the aisle asked for a vote on it, it failed 97-0. 97-0. none of our democratic
1:22pm
colleagues saw fit to support the president's budget proposal because they know that it makes the problem worse, not better. the president finally got engaged a few weeks ago, but the problem we still have is we don't know the detail of what the president's proposed solution to the plan is. he will not say publicly in detail what his plan is. and unfortunately -- and this is sort of the nature of the beast -- all of the negotiations so far that apparently are still continuing are behind closed doors, behind closed doors. and if there were a grand bargain to be had, i'm confident what would happen, it would be rolled out here on the floor of the senate or the house at the last minute without adequate time to review it or debate it or for the american people to read it and see how it affects them and to give us feedback. we are representatives of a constituency, and the 25 million people i represent in texas
1:23pm
would like to have a chance to read it and then to tell me what they think about it. well, we know that so far the american people are in the dark about the negotiations, and that is not a good way to do business. that does not help gain public confidence in what congress is trying to do in dealing with a very serious problem. well, last week i believe it was the press secretary at the white house that actually said that -- quote -- "leadership is not proposing a plan for the sake of having it voted up or down." i think that's a bizarre statement. you don't -- you offer a plan because you believe it offers a solution to a problem, not because of some fear of having it voted up or down. that's, in fact, how our system works. majority rules. but unfortunately, the president's leadership style is captured perfectly in that
1:24pm
statement and i think it sums up what's wrong with what's happening here in washington. well, mr. president, i want to remind my colleagues of the challenge before us, and it is not the debt ceiling. it is the debt, and those who think that it's not real i think are just whistling past our fiscal graveyard. here's what one of the credit rating agencies, standard and poor's, said just this morning, according to reuters. they said -- "if an agreement is reached to raise the debt ceiling but nothing meaningful is done in terms of deficit reduction, the u.s. would likely have its rating cut to aa category." such a downgrade would have an immediate effect on other securities, as standard and poor's said. we would downgrade the debt of freddie mac and fannie mae, the aaa rated federal home banks,
1:25pm
the aaa rated federal farm credit system banks to correspond with the u.s. sovereign rating. we would also, standard and poor's said, lower the ratings on aaa-rated u.s. insurance companies, as per our criteria that correlates insurers and sovereigns ratings. well, what would be the impact if these credit rating agencies, which seem to have an oversized influence on our lives but we -- they are what they are, what would be the impact of them downgrading the quality rating of our national debt? well, we know that it would yield higher interest rates for american families, for small businesses and for the united states government. in fact, we know that interest rates are at a historic low now because of federal reserve policy primarily, and those low
1:26pm
interest rates we may think are a good thing, and they have provided some glimmer of hope for our struggling economy, but if they were as a result of a downgrading of our debt by these credit rating agencies or by a default, which to me is unthinkable, just a 1% increase on the cost of credit that we would have to pay to people who buy our debt, just a 1% increase over current rates would mean mean $1.3 trillion over ten years. $1.3 trillion over ten years. so the discussions about cuts in the billions of dollars are chicken feed compared to what the credit rating agencies could wipe out almost immediately by downgrading our debt. this is what we are risking by not dealing with this problem. this is what we are risking by political gamesmanship rather than trying to work together in
1:27pm
a bipartisan basis to solve this threat to our country and to our future. as one economist, larry lindsay, wrote in "the wall street journal" last month, he said if interest rates rose to their historical averages over the next two decades of 5.7% from their current rates, he said our costs of borrowing would be be $4.9 trillion higher over the next ten years. so we are left with the obvious question, how can we stop this calamity, this economic calamity? well, we could pass this cut, cap and balance plan or the president or our friends across the aisle could propose something that they consider just as serious and just as credible, but we have got to do it quickly. so this deadline of august 2 is
1:28pm
one that we should not flirt with, we should not play with, we should not ignore. we have got to deal with it, and we can't just deal with it by raising the debt ceiling because as we have seen from the credit rating agencies, that doesn't solve the fundamental problem. we need to solve the fundamental problem of unsustainable debt or our economic future will not be one of hope and optimism, as the senator from iowa was saying earlier. it will be bleak indeed and it will be our fault. mr. president, i see my colleague from kansas on the floor. i yield the floor. mr. roberts: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. roberts: it is my understanding i'm recognized for
1:29pm
15 minutes, is that correct? the presiding officer: my understanding is that senators may speak up to ten minutes each under the previous order. mr. roberts: i see. well, at the end of ten minutes, i might ask unanimous consent for an additional five and seeing the smile on the president's face, perhaps he will be conducive to that request. mr. president, every generation confronts challenges, and i'd like to associate my remarks with the distinguished senator from texas. the greatest generation declared victory over fascism and imperialism. the next generation faced down an enormous competition between the united states and its way of life based on free markets, private ownership and free expression on one hand and the soviet union and its way of life based on central planning and collectivization and police
1:30pm
state control on the other, big time. again, victory belonged to america and the free world. a new generation in america has now come of age since the soviet union system has collapsed. it is a generation that too often, in my opinion, takes for granted the hardship and sacrifice of our forebears. it is this generation that must confront the crippling crippling $14.3 trillion debt and climbing. we have met the enemy, and they is us. the enemy today is our unsustainable debt that has been pointed out by speaker after speaker on both sides of the aisle. i'm privileged to represent the people of kansas, and the people of kansas are rightfully angry over the endless posturing and all of the rhetoric and all of the finger pointing regarding yet another increase in the
1:31pm
national debt. that's right, another increase in the debt limit. here we are again trying to reach agreement, and i wish the president and house leadership well in their current talks. i wish the senate was engaged. we certainly don't need to kick the can down the road any farther. we really are faced with one issue, and that is to rein in spending. let me point out in two years the debt limit was raised nearly as many times as it was in eight years of the previous administration. it should come as no surprise that the american people in general and kansans in particular reject these current spendthrift policies. i, from the first decided that it was time, talking about the time when we were considering tarp and we went through that very difficult time when many in the administration, the previous administration, indicated that
1:32pm
if you didn't vote for tarp, you were taking a very dangerous road. i must confess that if you look in the congressional biographies, they say i'm a journalist. in fact, that is annoyed newspaper person. -- that is an unemployed newspaper person. i wrote speeches. i've written a lot of speeches for my pred sores and -- for my predecessors down through the years. it's that old line of somehow or other we have to set our fiscal house in order not only for us, but for our kids and grandkids. how many times do we have to say that? how many times do we have to give the speech? i decided no more during the tarp consideration. i voted no. i remember the time when the administration folks came in to visit with me to convince knee vote "yes." i said can you explain to me what a credit default swap is.
1:33pm
i hadn't heard that term before. they couldn't. they said they didn't have enough time to do that. i decided no. i opposed the bailouts, i opposed the stimulus. i opposed dodd-frank, opposed obamacare and opposed any increase in the spending. i don't challenge the intent of people who promoted all of these things, but the result has been an incredible increase in our national debt. remember the line, "did you read the bill?" when people went back home, faced up to the folks back home, more especially with the health care bill, and all of a sudden people became aware of the regulations and all of the problems. the katrina amount of regulations that were pouring out of the department of health and human services. now it's have you read the regulations? if you add up the regulations in
1:34pm
2008 it was $1.78 trillion in cost to the american public. figure that in in regards to the national debt. that's back in 2008. think what it is today. it's probably twice that amount. so consequently, we really have a problem. now last -- since last november the president has spoken to this issue. as a matter of fact, he's spoken rather continuously at white house campaign rallies. the problem is that there's no specific plan. i know republicans in the house are getting a lost criticism for their plan. at least they have a plan. and the cut; cap, and balance, yes, balance plan, has received, as i said, a lot of counterterrorism but at least it -- a lot of criticism but at least it's there. on the other side they don't
1:35pm
have anything. we call that all hat and no cattle. his first words to put in action when the white house submitted his budget request, $3.73 trillion that was estimated to add another $1 trillion to the debt. we had an opportunity at that particular time, obviously that did not work. it was defeated 97-0 here in the senate. not too many bills get defeated 97-o. then all of a sudden we got into the tax situation. maybe if we just got involved a little more revenue enhancement here. it's called taxes back home. that's not the problem. taxing is not the problem. it's spending money that we don't have. in may, the president's budget, as i said, was defeated, and rightly so. so here we are more than halfway through the calendar year twaorbgs months -- two months away from the end of the fiscal year. still no budget from this body,
1:36pm
over 800 days. meanwhile we have met the $14.43 debt ceiling and it's climbing. rather than make meaningful cuts and meaningful reforms, specific reforms, the white house and some in the senate want to increase the debt ceiling again. again, we have met the enemy, and they is us. $14.43 trillion, it's a sum so large that it's difficult to understand. kansans who i visit with and who call my office express shock that we have allowed to get to this point. how did we get to this point? and then if in fact we don't do anything and we kick the can down the road, what does it mean in regards to, as the senator from iowa pointed out, the faith and optimism in our country? what does the future hold for a country that acts this way? in fact, paying down the debt should be bipartisan. what would presidents truman and eisenhower say of a $14.3
1:37pm
trillion debt? i think th*e po d be -- i think they'd be pretty harsh. both presidents have tough quotes in regard to fiscal responsibility. what we need in this chamber, what we need in washington is a strong dose of common sense as evidenced by previous presidents when they put leadership first. i hear the facts. they are stubborn things. they're clear. we borrow 40 cents for every dollar we spend. a lot of people hear that. it's climbing. it's going to be 41 here pretty quick. there's a lot of talk about tax breaks for corporate jets. boy, am i tired for that. and i'm tired of this whole class warfare stuff in regards to say if we just apply taxes to a certain small sphepbgt of the economy -- small segment of the economy, or maybe big segment like oil and gas, if we get them, we can sure solve the problem. let's take corporate jets which i would emphasize represents
1:38pm
general aviation. it's called general aviation because the general public uses it. it isn't all hollywood stars. it isn't all of the rich people using these so-called corporate jets. general aviation. it's the people who have to get there from here because you can't. 90% of our airports, a commercial flight doesn't land there. what you have a plant, what if you're a manufacturer? what if you're a farmer? what if you're a rancher and you have to visit several places in the country at one time, say 5, 6, 7, 8, maybe 30. that's what general aviation is all about. in the stimulus the president recommended an extension of the same tax depreciation schedule. now he is blaming the fat cats in regards to corporate jets are taking advantage. that's nuts. what the left hand giveth, the left hand taketh away in regards to a class warfare speech.
1:39pm
we make these jets in wichita. they are great airplanes and they service the general public for the public good. according to charles krauthammer, the renowned columnist, if you collect the corporate jet tax every year for the next 5,000 years, you would cover only one year of the debt that the president has run up. one year. i mean the general aviation industry will persevere, but we've come through some tough times. we're coming in on a wing and a prayer, that old world war ii song that's almost revered. so we will persevere. but can't we end this class warfare business? my lord, he talked about it six times in two paragraphs. as i say again, the same industry that he tried to help in the stimulus -- and that was the right thing to do at the time. every cent of taxpayer money is used to pay for entitlement programs and interest rate, and interest payments on the
1:40pm
national debt, all discretionary spending is borrowed. that's where we're headed. that's where we're at. on average we accumulate $4 billion in debt each day. it would cost each citizen $46,000 to pay the debt off. that means a family with a husband, wife twaorbgs kids -- wife, two kids would owe $180,000. that's rather startling to kansas families. they don't have that kind of money. i know perhaps some would say that's apples and oranges with the function of government and the function of families but it's a good illustration. we've gone over 800 days, i think it's 810, without a budget. during that time this country spent $3 trillion. we spent $439 billion in interest on the money we borrowed. we don't have regular order. if robert c. byrd was here today, sitting in that chair, he would be appalled.
1:41pm
he would be making a speech in louder terms than i am with short, jerky sentences. he would point out that we're not doing our duty. used to be that we would have a budget. then we would have appropriations bills. and then we would have the commits of jurisdiction meet those budget demands, meet that number. and then we would debate it on the floor. members would have an opportunity to bring amendments. and that's how we worked. we don't work that way anymore. no regular order. what we do is we bring up huge bills like dodd-frank and like the health care bill, usually conducted in private. and then we're voting on it. and then the american public says have you read the bill? then they say have you read the regulations? we've got to restore regular order and restore the senate back to the senate. people are fearful. the american public is fearful today. they just -- they have a real
1:42pm
conscientious worry that america is not the same as it used to be, that they enjoy, that they want their kids and their grandkids to enjoy. why is that? because i think the american dream is that every american youngster can climb on the ladder of success as fast and as high as he or she can with nothing government made or man-made in their way. regardless, you may stumble and hit your chin on a couple of rungs, but by golly, you get back up and you go right up. not anymore. not anymore. we have apparently a national agenda to level everybody with everybody else. it's called social justice. nothing wrong with social justice except if it is an agenda to affect everybody. we have now, the president of the united states deciding who's rich t. doesn't make -- it doesn't make any difference if a person doesn't make anything one
1:43pm
year, makes $250,000 the next year, he's rich. we have the national government, the federal government deciding everything. light bulbs, what you eat, rural fugitive dust when a grain truck goes down a gravel road in kansas and, by golly, we have dust and we have the e.p.a. worried about it. no kidding. we have and a half kabul farm ponds now -- we have navigable farm ponds now. we have regulation after regulation after regulation. i can't talk to any manufacturer, any business, anyone in kansas where i have the privilege of speaking without somebody raising their hand and saying pat, what on earth are you doing back there passing all these regulations that really don't make any sense or are about to put me out of business? my reply is i'm not a you guy. i'm an us guy and i'm trying do something about it. aeuf bill on that. i -- i have a bill on that. i encourage my colleagues to take a look at it.
1:44pm
the rate we're going in a few short years we'll be paying more on the debt than all discretionary spending outside defense. mike mullen said this is the biggest threat to our national security, $14.3 trillion. he's right. and his comments echo the calls i received every day from kansans. there's a lot of rhetoric going on here now, and i understand it. let's all take a deep breath if we can. debate and posturing is nothing new in this body or in american history, the earliest days in our republic it was between alexander hamilton and the fellists on one side -- and the federalists on one side and thomas jefferson and his allies on the other. the enmity between these men was so obvious, much that occurred then would be considered out of bound by today's standards of political discourse. the debate raged on between the early parties with the drafting of the constitution.
1:45pm
it seemed possible that the great american experiment would be over before it began. george washington at that time retired to private life, begged him to rescue america from the pending ruin. washington rose to the occasion the way a leader does. he did it for his country, his fellow americans. he showed leadership because it was the right thing to do. and in the end, a compromise was reached. yes, it was, a compromise. and to have the constitution drafted by "the federalists," but with the bill of rights which was drafted by the jeffersonians. later, after being elected our nation's first president, washington wag dismayed over the continuous bickering between hamilton and jefferson, over a wide range of issues, how to interpret the constitution, the powers of congress, the relationship between the states and the federal government and the public debt. even then -- sound familiar? well, amidst the feuding, george
1:46pm
washington wrote, how unfortunate is it to be regretted that while we are encompassed on all sides with enemies and insidious friends that internal dissension should be harrowing and tearing our vitals? man, that's pretty tough. that's a bottle we ought to drink from every morning and start to think about it. since the founding of our nation -- the presiding officer: the senator has spoken for 15 minutes. robert robert i ask unanimous consent that i may proceed for two additional minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. robert robert thank you. since the founding of our narks people the world over have looked to us because of our freedoms. others have watched the great american experiment with a perverse hope that i it fails. we can only fail if we fail ourselves, if we fail to balance the budget and bring down the debt. america has always proven itself. we will met any challenge and continent front any enemy. the enemy before us is our own
1:47pm
fiscal irresponsibility. it is time to stop talking. it is time to start doing. it is time for the president to come up with a specific plan and in meeting with republicans and democrats in the house and the same in the senate, let's do our duty. and some of the toughest i recallly debates in our country -- and in some of the toughest early debates in our country, americans were fortunate to have leadership in keeping a hand on the wheel. i hope we can look to character, to leadership, to love of our country to guide us through these very trying times. every generation confronts a unique set of challenges. the challenge we face today is the $14.3 trillion debt -- and growing. i am so hopeful that we can close ranks and confront this enemy. we owe the american people and our forebearers no less than victory in this fight.
1:48pm
i yield back, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, i'd ask unanimous consent to speak for 15 minuteses though in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. enzi: thank you. mr. president, we've spent a considerable amount of of time discussing the debt and the deficit crisis this country is facing during the 112th congress. although we have heard from the president that we must raise the debt limit, neither he nor any of his democratic colleagues, with the exception of the three senators in the gang of six, have presented us with a concrete plan to rein in spending and get our fiscal house in order. meanwhile, every day we're spending more money that we don't have. while my democratic colleagues continue to talk about the need to increase the debt limit and get our fiscal house in order, the house of representatives has taken concrete action to make that happen. on tuesday night, 234 members of
1:49pm
the house of representatives joined together to pass the cut, cap, and balance act. the bill will put the country on a sound fiscal course at the same time that it gives the president $2.4 trillion in additional borrowing authority that he's asked us to provide. the problem we currently face is that we're spending too much money and borrowing too much money. i agree with our colleagues in the house that it only makes sense for us to increase the borrowing authority, if we put the country on a path where that borrowing will eventually end. even though it is a long way out. the cut, cap, and balance act takes a three-tiered approach to finding the right fiscal ship. first, it provides some substantial but reasonable cuts to spending immediately. the bill requires us to cut about 3% in spending from the bloated federal budget next year. that cut amounts to more than
1:50pm
$100 billion in spending next year. the bill allows the house and senate to determine where those cuts are most appropriate and because we recognize the need to cut in appropriate areas, the cut, cap, and balance act ensures that there are no immediate cuts to social security, medicare, veterans' benefits or military salaries. at the same time we cut spending, the bill puts in place spending caps that prevent us from spending above a specific amount and puts our spending trajectory on a path where we can achieve a balanced budget. we all wish that we could balance the budget tomorrow, but we're spending money at such an alarming rate that it just isn't achievable. we're almost borrowing as much money as we take in in revenue. the bill recognizes that fact and gradually caps spending so we can achieve balance. finally, the bill gives the president the ability to borrow
1:51pm
an additional $2.4 trillion he's requesting subject to one condition: that congress passes a balanced budget amendment. we all gley we need to stop -- we all agree that we need to stop borrowing so much money. the only way to do that to have a balanced budget. not spending more than we take in. we have a pretty good idea how much we have coming in, how much is going out. that's why august 2 is this day of crisis. and that's including the money that we borrow. and when we pay the interest, we have to borrow 40 cents on every dollar to pay the interest. if you have a masmed-out credit card and you borrow to pay the minimum balance, you think you'll ever pay that card off? not a chafnlt chance. that's the sways we're in. a balanced budget means that we won't spend money we don't have. therefore, if the president wants to borrow $2.4 trillion more from countries like china, we need to know that it won't force us to borrow money
1:52pm
forever. cut, cap, and balance does not ask for the time for states to ratify a balanced budget amendment after it passes. their time to ratify gives us time to get where we need to go. like families across america, we're going to have to decide what spending is essential. families have many ideas for spending money as the federal government does. but they know that it's not an option to spend what they don't have. they have to decide what's essential and what's "nice to have." i think it's important to take a look at the problem we're facing. if you grasp the size of the problem, you'll share my sense of urgency that we must pass the cut, cap, and balance act. our national debt is around $14.3 trillion. our national debt is almost equal to the whole economy of the united states, everything that's produced and sold in the united states. our debt is almost equal to the
1:53pm
whole economy of the united states. we call it g.d.p. that's so you don't really know what we're fog about. -- what we're talking about. that means if we were to pay off the debt, every man, woman, and child in this country would need to write a check for more than $46,000. it would be one thing if that number were projected to decrease or if there were signs that we're making progress in bringing our budget back into balance. but that's not happening. since the president took office in 2009, our national debt has increased by more than $4.4 billion each day. for a total increase of $3.7 trillion. i can already hear the president counter that he had a lot to clean up. at what point when things are getting worse instead of better is the president going to take ownership and provide a solution on paper? lots of speeches, no paimple pa.
1:54pm
the stimulus didn't works, so let's not repeat it. if you keep doing what you've been doing, you shouldn't be surprised if you wind up what you already got -- the same result. margaret thatcher when she was prime minister proved that putting the fiscal house in order increased the economy. they already tried some of the other things, but putting the fiscal house in order is what made the difference. in 2011, we're expected to spend $3.6 trillion. at the same time that we spend the $3.6 trillion, we'll have revenues of $2.2 trillion. that's $1.4 trillion in deficit. if we follow the president's budget we'll a have a deficit the next year of $1.2 trillion. the ten-year average be, if we follow the president's budget proposal, is nearly $1 trillion in deficits each year.
1:55pm
after his first term, the president's policies are expected to add almost as much debt held by the public as all the presidents in the history of the united states. that level of deficit cannot be sustained, and contrary to the opinions of my friends on the other side of the aisle, we cannot tax our way out of this problem. failure to live within our means doesn't warrant tasm taxing the taxpayers for washington's failures. according to the congressional budget office, the top 20% of income earners paid almost 80% -- 86% of all federal taxes in 2007. those individuals are the job creators in this country. many of them are small businesses who reinvest their profits, even though they have to pay the taxes on them at that time. so they put the profits back into their businesses to make them grow. increasing taxes at a time of economic struggle will cost jobs and will lead to more
1:56pm
unemployment and higher deficits. businesses are already reluctant to expand because the increasing and detrimental regulations coming out every day of this administration. some of the regulations aren't even from current law. so they'll be fought in the courts and they'll be overturned. but it'll be at a great expense, a great delay, as it will take over a five-year period to do that. and we'll experience more pain than any cuts that we might make. now, rather than increasing taxes, we need to cut spending and reform entitlement programs. mandatory and entitlement programs now account for 62% of all federal spending and that number continues to rise as the baby-boomer generation retires. by comparison, mandatory and entitlement programs accounted for 33% of all federal budget spending in 1964. 33% up to 62%.
1:57pm
the numbers don't lie. entitlement programs are placing a stranglehold on our budget and yet they are there are still calls from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to keep them as they are. misinformation from campaigns about side groups say there isn't a problem and we can fix our budget simply by cutting earmarks and finding waste, fraud, and abuse. that's just not true. even if the money from the social security trust fund that has been spent were returned, the length of time a person now lives makes the fund actuarial broke. these problems are too serious for us to ignore. erskine bowles, the chairman of- the cochairman of the deficit commission said it best when he testified, "we are facing the most predictable crisis in our nation's history." end quote. everyone knows that wands to take action. everyone knows that we need to make the tough choices necessary to right our fiscal ship.
1:58pm
and yet there are some who suggest that we should act -- should not act or that we should wait to act. to those members i say that we've kicked the can down the road long fluff. it's time to take action to change the trajectory of our spending habits and get this country in a condition that we can be proud to leave to our children and grandchildren. we've known that this debt limit debate was coming for months. we can all see that the government is spending money at a rate that will require us to authorize the treasury department to borrow more money. although the date shifted, the fablght that the government will reach the debt limit should come as no surprise to anyone. that's why it is so perplexing that the president has not presented any written plans to get the country back on trafnlg irguess the president did present one and we voted on it, and it didn't get a single vote in this chamber, not one voavment he didn't even talk one
1:59pm
democrat into voting for t he had an outstanding opportunity to talk about the deficit crisis, that the deficit commission pointed out. he could have done that in the state of the union speech. he could have followed that up with a budget that would have mirrored when the budget commission said. that's kind of where this gang of six is right now with their suggestion. tbhabut that didn't havment insd we move on to the crisis and figure that just raising the debt limit will solve everything. we've known it was coming for a long time, and in the house republicans passed a budget that would cut the spending by $5.8 trillion over the next ten years. senator toomey and senator paul in this body presented their own budgets that would get our country back on track. those were defeated. senator corker has introduced legislation that would cop spending levels and had us in the -- cap spending levels and hahead us in the right directio.
2:00pm
i've introduced legislation that would require us to reduce spending by 1% for seven years and cap spending each year to balance the budget. it'll work. in seven years, 1%. incident will, that's probably how long it'll take the states to ratify the balanced budget amendment. if you're saying we could do it without a balanced budget amendment, you should also pass my 1% solution bill and prove that we can. a a backup plan is always a good idea. most businesses in the united states have to find a way to reduce spending by 1% to match the economy or to do the regulations we force on them. most families have to find a way to spend one penny less out of every dollar or face a financial crisis. why can't the united states do 1%? 1% each year? by making the 1% spending cut, we'd save around $7.5 trillion over the next ten years, balance our budget and we'd put the country on a sustainable
2:01pm
spending path. republicans have offered all of these plans and we continue to hear only silence from the other side. the only plan presented by the majority, as i mentioned, was president obama's fiscal year 2012 budget, which was unanimously opposed. when the president and the majority don't lead, some bill has to take the lead. members of the house proved that on tuesday night by passing a plan that allows the president to have his debt limit increase and get our country back on track. the cut, cap and balance act is a responsible solution to the problems we face. we are spending too much. too much spending leads to too much borrowing. to rein in spending, we must make immediate cuts that prove congress can act and we must cap future spending to ensure that our spending levels do not grow at an unsurmountable level. to prevent future borrowing, we need to put in place a mechanism that will require us to balance the budget.
2:02pm
49 states require a balanced budget and it's well past time for the federal government to show the same fiscal restraint. the president's asked us to give him the ability to borrow $2.4 trillion more. that's $2.4 trillion that our children and grandchildren will have to pay back, and if the crisis worsens, it will move up to the current generation. it's money that we'll need to borrow from countries like china, who are our competitors in the world and who do not necessarily share the same values. i don't take that responsibility lightly. this responsibility requires immediate action to correct the problem and prevent future generations from having to make the tough choices our out-of-control spending has forced us to make. the house took the responsibility seriously and passed the cut, cap and balance act to right our fiscal ship at
2:03pm
the same time we give the president the borrowing authority he so desires. the united states senate should follow suit and pass the cut, cap and balance act immediately. i yield the floor. and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
2:04pm
2:05pm
2:06pm
2:07pm
2:08pm
2:09pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: i ask to speak as if in morning business, unanimous consent. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i come to the floor today because we are discussing the -- the cut and the cap and the balance act which, of course, i support and it gets back to a little poster that i've had at home with my kids over the years and it's -- and i have a copy of it here. it's called "the two penny difference." "the two-penny difference," two cents. it says, "if you earn a dollar and you spend 99 cents, you're
2:10pm
okay. but spend $10.01, and you're headed for trouble." "yet today" this says -- and this was many, many years ago -- "yet today, spending seems more fashionable than saving. what once was called poor money management has now been called deficit spending. whatever it's called, it leads to inevitable headaches for people, for companies and even for governments. and, frankly, mr. president, that's the situation with which we find ourselves today, a major headache because, as a nation, we have continued to spend money that we don't have. and as a result of that, we've been borrowing money, significant amounts of money, actually about $4 billion a day. a lot of it we're borrowing from overseas, much of it from china. and then you say, how does one then become or maintain themselves as -- as an independent and strong and forceful nation when one owes that sort of a debt to someone
2:11pm
else? so what the american people have been telling me as i've traveled around my home state is that americans believe and the people of wyoming clearly believe that they want washington to cut spending, not to increase taxes. now -- now, the white house doesn't seem to hear that message. they're ignoring it, they're tuning it out. they've admitted they don't have a plan to cut washington wasteful spending and actually the president doesn't think he needs one. and i want to quote the white house press secretary. he said, "leadership," he said, "is not proposing a plan." you know, it's saddening but not surprising given this white house' track record of changing its positions over and over. say one thing, do another, and no one can really predict what they will do. just last week, the president said he wouldn't support a short-term increase in the debt ceiling, even warned the house majority leader, he said, "don't call my bluff." we've all seen it on television. now we know it was a bluff.
2:12pm
the president is now saying he might welcome a short-term increase in the debt ceiling. yesterday the president announced that -- or it was announced by the president's spokesman that they would consider this short-term increase, so it's really hard to tell what they're thinking at 1600 pennsylvania avenue and a lot of times it depends on which way the wind is blowing. now, white house officials aren't the only ones who think it's better to not propose a plan. in fact, a story in "roll call" newspaper yesterday said that one of my colleagues, the senior senator from new york, warned the democrats, warned the democrats to not release a plan. the article even said that they told budget chairman not to propose -- told the budget chairman not to propose a budget because it would just give others around the country something to shoot at. we've been here over 800 days since there's been a budget passed through the senate and a senator tells the chairman of the budget committee, don't let them see the budget.
2:13pm
according to this article, however, it said that although he thought it was more politically helpful to spend time -- quote -- "attacking corporate jet owners and defending entitlements." mr. president, our entitlements are going to be bankrupt in just over ten years and some folks don't want to produce a plan to save them or to strength enthem? that's what -- strengthen them? that's what we're hearing on the floor of the senate. people often try to figure how really large is this debt that we have. well, we spend more on interest on our debt, just interest on our debt each and every day more than it would cost to buy several hundred corporate jets every day that the democrat senator from new york, the senior senator, is railing against. that's just the interest alone on the debt. that's what kind of money we owe. this isn't the kind of leadership that america needs right now. even though the white house and my friends on the other side of the aisle continue to send
2:14pm
different signals each day, republicans remain committed to cutting spending. in fact, we put forward the only plan that has passed either house of congress. it's called cut, cap and balance. it will cut spending, it will cut the spending that we have that the american people realize we cannot live kind of continuing to spend money that we don't have. it will cap future spending, and it will require washington to balance its budget. the state of wyoming balances its budget every year. every other alternative in this congress, on the hill, all around town, every other alternative is either undefined or unfinished or only speculative. so, mr. president, i am pleased that the senate will soon have a chance to vote on cut and cap and balance. it's a plan that's good for our country and it's common sense. when washington is $14 trillion in debt, we must cut the spending. when washington borrows
2:15pm
$4 billion a day, we must cap future spending. and when washington borrows $2 million every single minute, we must learn to balance our budget. americans understand that our country can't continue down this same track. we can't continue to spend money we don't have. cut and cap and balance is the best plan for america. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, these are challenges, indeed dawpting times. while we're coming out of the worst economic crisis since the great depression, with continued high unemployment, our economy still remains extraordinarily fragile. the fragility is not simply a macroeconomic phenomenon. it affects every family in this country who are worried about their employment, worrying about the future of their children,
2:16pm
worrying about whether their parents will still enjoy adequate coverage under medicare, will still be able to draw some sustenance from social security checks. all these worries are the daily lot of all americans, and we have to respond to it. the most salient fact that affects most americans is the dramatic loss of employment beginning in 2007-2008 as the financial crisis engulfs this country. the united states economy has lost about 8.7 million private sector jobs just in 2008 and 2009 alone. these were times when the republican president was continuing to accumulate huge deficit spending, most of it initiating and beginning with tax cuts which my republican colleagues supported enthusiastically. two wars that were not paid for
2:17pm
which were supported overwhelmingly by my republican colleagues. entitlement expansion of part-d of medicare which again supported. and at no time did i hear the kind of outcry about growing deficits that we're hearing today. we all understand that after the ten years of this decade, eight of which were under the presidency of george w. bush, we're in a very difficult deficit position. that position is made worse because our economy is not generating jobs, and one of the aspects of all these so-called plans, the cut, balance, whatever plan and all the rest is a fundamental question -- how is it going to help us grow our economy, grow jobs, in rhode island, in vermont, in wyoming? that seems to elude all of the proponents of these plans at the moment.
2:18pm
we have seen since the president, president obama has taken office, some growth in employment. 16 consecutive months of private sector job growth, about 2.1 million jobs in sharp contrast to what was happening under president bush in the last two years of his administration, but we have got a long, long way to go. and indeed, we have a long, long way to go to make up for the surplus which president bush and the republican congress inherited in 2001 and the deficit and economic destruction that president obama inherited when he took office as president of the united states. a most -- our most immediate and pressing business is try to reach some principle of compromise on raising the debt ceiling, but instead of doing that, something that was done i must say rather routinely under president bush about eight times, even though democrats, we had very serious disagreements
2:19pm
with him. disagreements on his tax policy, disagreements on a tax policy that was increasing the deficit, disagreement on wars which were increasing the deficit as well as distorting our strategy internationally, but at no time did we try to use the debt ceiling as the ultimate apocalyptic weapon to bring the president and perhaps in doing so even the country down. but i hear too many of my colleagues talking in those terms on the other side, particularly in the other chamber. now, the bill that has been passed in the house is an attempt to shrink government, protect the wealthy and special interests and tax code. it ties a debt ceiling increase to passage of a constitutional amendment that would require 38 states for ratification. once again, we are taking what was routinely done and necessary so that we don't default on our
2:20pm
credit and making it the vehicle for altering the constitution of the united states, of building in even additional protections in the tax code for our wealthiest citizens. now, this approach they're taking will, i think, needlessly jeopardize social security, medicare and medicaid. while it enshrines in the constitution further protections for loopholes in our tax code and the tax benefits that many of the wealthy and large corporations enjoy today. at the heart of what they are trying to propose in the house and they have said to us is to make it easier to cut these vital programs, a range of programs that involve transportation security agents at our airports, that can involve the flight controllers in the towers, can involve the
2:21pm
distribution of indeed agriculture programs which affect large parts of this country, not so much my state but large parts of this country. all of that would be subject to the calculation of cutting, cutting, cutting, while it would be extraordinarily difficult to raise revenues. i don't think that makes sense. i don't think that's what the american people want. what i have seen from the polling is that a huge number of americans who are frankly saying, you know, the wealthiest in this country are enjoying huge, huge tax benefits. 80%, i believe, of the american public are saying the first step we should do in balancing the budget is raise the taxes up on the wealthiest americans. that's what they're saying. they're not saying cut benefits from people who are on the margin, who are struggling, working poor, who may be just under the line or over the line to qualify for medicaid benefits
2:22pm
in a state, health care for their children. i think the american people are smarter and more decent than some of the proposals that are being surfaced around here. now, again, the caps on spending, they are all dressed up as sort of -- have no real effect on the important programs, but they will have an effect on every program, including social security, medicare and medicaid. for people who are still struggling to find work, still struggling to find some type of traction in a difficult economy, these cuts can be devastating. and indeed, one of the challenges we have to generate our economy again is growth, and when we pull back from spending in the economy, that will further accelerate, i think, the lack of demand and the lack of any incentive for private hiring. we're already seeing companies cut back and cut back. and why are they saying this? no demand.
2:23pm
people aren't buying. people are saving. and if they sense -- not sense but they know they have to save more because they are not quite sure whether they will get all their social security check or their medicare benefits or any other benefits, well, that's just going to drive demand further down and slow the economy further down. now, the republican plan includes overall spending caps that reach 19.9% of g.d.p. starting in 2017, but we have to look at this number in historical perspective. over the past 40 years, this rate of spending is not only lower than the average spending but moreover outlays the percentage of gross domestic product have only declined 19.9% or lower when unemployment has been 6% or below. that makes sense. when the economy is working, people don't collect a lot of
2:24pm
benefits. they have a job. they don't need the kind of assistance they need today. and this cap of 19.9% is totally out of the context when it comes to the present unemployment rate of 9% and frankly perhaps an even larger unemployment rate if this program is enacted. again, i don't think this makes sense in terms of the simple mathematics or the history or the underlying policies that it would inevitably produce in the country, and yet we're still in this republican proposal protecting the most special interests in this country, big oil and corporations. those tax breaks, those tax perks, they're still there and they'll continue to be there. now, we all recognize we have to make tough decisions about spending and about revenue.
2:25pm
what i find acutely ironic is democrats did that in 1993 and 1994, and we heard about it. years and years later, by republicans. of course by 2000, we had a surplus. we had an economy, an unemployment rate much closer to 5% than 10%, and all of that hard work without any assistance by the republicans was completely squandered beginning in january, 2001, and now we're back to the same challenge that we face in 1993 and 1994, and we did it by making tough decisions, we did it over several years, we did it by trying to balance both cutting expenditures and increasing appropriate revenue, and also by recognizing that working americans need the assistance, the support of their government, and we can do it again, and i
2:26pm
hope we do. but the first challenge, the one that has to be met is to raise the debt ceiling. defaulting on our debt would have catastrophic consequences. as we approach this deadline, the mere fact that we haven't done anything yet is prompting credit agencies to suggest that they will downgrade our rating, and one of the most salient figures which i have heard in this debate is that for every increase of 1% in our cost of credit, in the interest we have to pay tomorrow, in ten years, we will have $1.3 trillion of deficits. the longer we avoid raising the debt ceiling, the closer we come to actually accelerating the deficit dramatically by increasing the rate that we have to pay to borrow funds. and the other point i make and the final point, this is not for new spending we have to borrow money. this is for the accumulation of
2:27pm
the deficit that began dramatically in january, 2001. and so i would urge my colleagues to move promptly and responsibly to raise the debt ceiling and then to get on the hard, difficult work not of some magic plan that is produced overnight but the long, difficult, hard work of balancing our budget as we did, as democrats, in the 1990's, and later in 1996-1997 with a republican congress further added to the deficit reduction under the leadership of president clinton. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor.
2:28pm
2:29pm
2:30pm
2:31pm
the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i'm going to ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: mr. president, one of the things that from us
2:32pm
the -- one of the things that frustrates the american people about washington is how hard it is to get straightforward answers. we in the congress have that same difficulty. it is hard to know sometimes what numbers and statements and plans really mean and what they will cost. politicians offer a budget proposal, and they say it cuts taxes even though taxes go up. they even come up with new names to disguise tax hikes. maybe they call them deficit cuts. that's been used. revenue enhancements, pretty common. revenue enhancements. or reduce spending in the tax code. reduced spending in the tax code. it doesn't mean eliminating the earned-income tax credit. it usually means some deduction somebody's allowed to take, and that's been renamed as spending. we hear people come to the floor and blame our massive deficit on
2:33pm
anything and everything but our out-of-control spending. well, it's the war in iraq or it's a tax cut passed a decade ago. we can't have an honest budget if we really can't talk honestly and factually about it. and i hope to be able to contribute in some way to clarifying the issues. i'll do my best today to plainly state some of the things i think that are plainly true. first, i would like to address the myth that the president has a $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan. that's been talked about a bit. it seems to be belief that the president has a plan to reduce spending by $4 trillion. but the only plan that the president has put on paper and
2:34pm
allowed anybody to see is his february budget, which doubles the national debt. the president has never put a single spending cut plan on paper that actually reduces spending, and he has no program that would reduce substantially the deficit. if he does, it's a closely guarded secret. his budget that he submitted earlier this year increases taxes significantly, but it increased spending more by the congressional budget office annual circumstance it would increase the -- by the congressional budget office, analysis, it would increase the deficit more. it would increase by $13 trillion, doubling the entire debt of the united states again in the next ten years. and if there is a secret plan that does exist somewhere, it
2:35pm
should be made public this afternoon. let's see it. i'd like to. i think millions of americans would feel the same way. summaries just don't work. the president summarized his budget that i just described as calling on americans to live within our means, and you will not add more to the debt. now that sounds pretty good because this year our deficit is projected to be $1,500000,000,000. so we'd like to be living within our means again. we'd like to not add more to the debt. but even by their own analysis, the plan didn't do it. and the congressional budget office, our independent group, analyzed the president's budget and found that in ten years the
2:36pm
lowest single annual deficit that would occur would be $740 billion. the highest budget deficit president bush was $450 billion. the lowest that would be accrued would be $740 billion. and it goes up in the out years until it goes over $1 trillion, over $1,000,000,000,000,000. how would that be? live within your means? we can't deal with summaries and spin statements about a plan until that plan has been put in legislative language and scored. we also have received no plan from my senate democratic colleagues for a time there, a
2:37pm
couple of months ago the democrats were on the path to producing a budget in the budget committee as required by statutory law. i, as ranking republican, was very anxious to see it, and we were told we'd get it it the morning of the hearing. not a bit sooner. so i grumbled about that. i'd like to have a little more time to see it, but it never happened. i think if the majority leader, not our committee chairman decided, the democratic leadership decided they didn't want to have a budget. one of their committee folks said it put a target on your back. senator reid said it would be foolish to have a budget. why would it be foolish to have a budget? well, you can't say your budget calls on you to live within your means if you actually put it out there. people can score it and find out whether that's true or not. so we haven't had a budget in
2:38pm
this senate in 813 days. as of now, there is only one debt limit plan on paper. only one plan available for public scrutiny and review. and that's the one we're considering today. cut, cap, and balance. it cuts spending immediately. it caps it so it won't go up. and it requires the passage of a balanced budget amendment to ensure that washington ends deficit spending once and for all. the american people do not support a washington plan to pass some grand deal with tax hikes that never go away and with spending cuts that are talked about but never really materialize. so they're wise, i think, to the gimmicks and accounting of washington. they are not happy with us. at this very moment the people's representatives in congress have
2:39pm
presided over a financial condition of this country where 40% of every dollar this government spends is borrowed. well, these are tea party people. you know, they're angry. they're not good people. they're angry people. why shouldn't they be angry when this kind of leadership has occurred in the congress of the united states of america? it is utterly, totally indefensible. it should never ever have happened. yet, it has. it threatens our financial future. it threatens our economy and our economic growth. so the american people are not happy about it. and so that's why i introduced a piece of legislation that would require seven days to review any bill that would increase the debt limit, because this is going to be complex. people want to bring it up at
2:40pm
the 11th hour under a panic mode. if we don't pass it tomorrow, the world markets are going to be destabilized. interest could go up. and i don't know, some of those things could happen. we ought to do it before the last minute. we absolutely should do something to avoid this deadline. but we ought to not wait until the last minute and have plopped down in the united states senate some big, complex bill that's got to be passed before the sun rises the next day, and nobody has time to analyze it or score it to find out what it really means. but washington democratic colleagues are resisting the cut, cap, and balance bill because there's no gimmick in it. there's no accounting trick to
2:41pm
get around if this becomes law. they know it will work. and for the big spenders, the only thing you don't want to pass is a piece of legislation that will work to contain spending, because you see, they want to spend more. and they think if they continue to spend more, then they can go and demand you raise taxes to pay for it. washington is going to have to end this spending spree. there are -- these kind of difficult choices are the responsible choices families, cities, states, county commissions are making every day, every year. in alabama, governor robert bentley oversaw an across-the-board cut of 15% from the general fund in the current year because of a constitutional prohibition on deficit spending. alabama's not going to run up a
2:42pm
debt. and for next year, he's taken a cautious approach. hopefully we'll have more revenue, but he is cautiously approaching next year, and he's proposed cuts of up to 45% for some agencies that could -- that he felt would be appropriate places to reduce spending. those are tough choices. but unlike that, the federal government is not required to live within our means. another myth i'd like to address is the idea that our current budget crisis is the result of two wars and a tax cut. we've heard that over and over again. and the wars cost money, a good bit of money. over the entire decade, the cost of afghanistan and iraq wars is
2:43pm
about $1.3 trillion. and that is a lot of money. again, that's over ten years, over a decade. this year alone, the deficit is expected to be $1.4 trillion. the deficit this year will be larger than the cost of the iraq and afghanistan wars over ten years. the driving force behind our deficit is not the wars in iraq and afghanistan. it's just not. war costs represent only 4% of total outlays over the last ten years. the total amount of money spent since president obama took office is $8.5 trillion. by the end of his first three years in office, we will have added $5 interest to our gross
2:44pm
federal deficit. these are stunning numbers. bush had a widely criticized $450 billion deficit. since president obama has been in ofsz the deficits -- in office the deficit looks like it will be $1.5 trillion. we are borrowing too close to half of what we're spending every single day. in the last few years, discretionary spending, non-defense discretionary spending in the last two years increased 24%. 12% a year on average. these is discretionary spending. this isn't social security, medicare which increased far less than that.
2:45pm
maybe half of that. the stimulus package alone added into law in a single day in 19 -- in 2009, we passed it on this floor over my objection. that stimulus package, every penny of which was borrowed. we were in debt but they said the economy needs to be stimulated. we're going to spend $850 billion or so. that one stimulus package passed in the largest expenditure bill in the history of the american public -- republic costs more than the entire war in iraq has cost. the spending when president bush took office was less than $2 trillion. today it's almost $4 trillion. it will be almost $6 trillion by the end of the decade. there is only one honest answer to the question over why our debt is rising so fast, and that is out-of-control domestic
2:46pm
spending. another myth that's circulating, which i'd like to address, concerns the outline from our colleagues and friends who participated and worked hard on the gang of six proposal. and i give theme lo creme a lott and respect for the hard work they put into it. i wish it had been produced a month ago so we could have had legislative language and know what it really moons today. the authors of the summary that they just produced for us claim that the approach would reduce the deficit by $3.7 trillion, which maybe is a third or so of the deficit we're projected to see in the next ten years. but my staff on the budget committee, take #-g the pages -- summary pages that they've produced for us can only find $1.2 trillion in reduced spending in that outline, along with what's pretty clear -- very
2:47pm
clear -- a $1 trillion tax increase. where does the other $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction claimed in the outline come from? chairman conrad, one of the members of the gang of six -- and our chairman on the budget committee -- a man i respect and have enjoyed working with, says -- even says the outline has a $1.5 billion -- $1.5 trillion tax cut. but this is compared, see -- this is how these numbers get bandied about -- is compared against a baseline which assumes more than $3.5 trillion in tax increases would occur. so he's only going to increase taxes, i guess, $2 trillion -- i don't know -- and you get a savings by not having them go up as much. but based on the current tax rates that are in existence in
2:48pm
america today, as we read their outline -- and i think they would agree -- it increases taxes by $1 trillion over ten years. that's a large amount. the real cost of the tax changes, some say, who've looked at these numbers, is not $1 trillion buds 2 trillion but $2. so hopefully we'll get legislative language that will actually be analyzed and we would know how much taxes would actually go up. the last myth i'd like to address is perhaps the most important of all, and this is the myth that we only need about $2 trillion in actual spending cuts over the next ten years. and that's basically been what our colleagues are saying. well, they float the idea of a $4 trillion in savings. what that means is you save $2
2:49pm
trillion by reducing spending and you increase taxes $2 trillion and you've saved $4 billion over ten years. i'm not sure that's what the american people are expecting of us when we're saying we're saving money, by taking it from them, not saving the american people more, it's not saving the private economy now, to take another $2 trillion from them, because there's no free lunch. somebody pays. our democratic colleagues have said, although no plan has ever been made public to this effect, that they could get behind a budget deal that duc reduces tht $4 billion over the next ten years, half of it comprised of spending cuts. well, this is not even close, frankly. -- to what is needed to
2:50pm
ultimately balance our budget. we are projected to spend $46 trillion over the next ten yea years. a $2 trillion reduction in spending is only about a 4% reduction in spindzin in spendit to increase by almost 60%. remember, we'll say we're reducing spending. not reducing spending, reducing the rate of growth in spending by $2 trillion on a $46 trillion plane. think about it. we're not talking about reducing spending. this budget would have the expenditures go up significantly in the next ten years to $46 trillion. the $2 trillion would be a growth -- reducing in growth,
2:51pm
and $2 trillion of tax increases would mean we'd be able to spend the same $46 trillion. we just wouldn't -- we would borrow $2 trillion less. because we'd extracted more from the american people. in just a little over two months, our debt will reach 100% of our economy, 100% of g.d.p. that's the gross debt. that would match the size of our economy, cost us a million jobs or more a year when that occurs. we have the rogoff-reinhardt study. secretary geithner said it is an excellent study. he said in some ways it understates the problem we have. he knows this is a real problem for mechanic. their study shows that when your debt reaches as large as ours, it starts pulling down economic
2:52pm
growth. we expected 3% growth the first quarter. came in at 1.8%. could that be because we've crossed the 90% threshold already in debt to g.d.p., and that debt becomes a burden on the economy and reduces growth? this quarter's growth is going to be lower. the experts are downgrading the projected growth for the third and fourth quarters of this fiscal year -- this calendar year. a very serious thing. and christine roemer, who used to be in president obama's white house on economic matters, said 1% growth means you'll add a million jobs. so if we lose them and come in at 2% growth instead 36%, we fail to add -- instead of 3%, we fail to add a million jobs we could have added. and the debt, i truly believe,
2:53pm
is the reason we're having surprisingly low growth rates. below projected rates. maybe i'm wrorntion but we certainly have a study that -- maybe i'm wrong, but we certainly have a study that seems to say that and has been praised by economists all over the country. the honest truth is that this president and his democratic senate are not going to agree to the level of spending cuts in a debt deal that's necessary to put our country on a sound path. i think that's a fact. we've been negotiating and talking all year. the house laid out a budget plan. the senate has refused. 800-plus days without a budget. they are determined not to reduce spending. after increasing disom particular spend -- after
2:54pm
increasing domestic spending, non-defense, by 24%. they say they'll freeze spending. freeze spending at levels that have jumped 24%? we don't have the money. we're borrowing 40 cents out of every dollar we spend. this is a -- unfortunately, we've got a battle over the vision for the future of america. it's a big-government vision that a lot of our members have, and they're going to work as hard as they possibly can to preserve that vision, preserve that spending. after running up this huge debt by 24% baseline increase, that does not count the stimulus package of almost $900 billion that's thrown on top of that run up all this debt and now they want to go to the american people sand sa and say, we're nt going to cut spending; you have
2:55pm
got to pay more in taxes. i don't think that's what the american people want. so we've got a national debate here. it's the great debate of our time. it's not going to be settled in two weeks. a few people are not going to meet in secret and work out some grand and glorious deal -- i wish they could, but i don't think they are. i'd be pleased if they do. i'm confident that the good sense and wisdom of the american people ultimately is going to prevail. i'm confident they will -- we will eventually get our spending under control. we will restore the american principles of limited government and build a better, freer, future for our chin, raise the debt limit so we don't have that kind of problem and put this country on a sound path. if we get our debt under control, i think this growth will jump, and i believe we'll see the progress we've always
2:56pm
seen in this great, productive, dynamic country. i thank the chair and would yield the floor. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. bennet: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: thank you, mr. president. i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bennet: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, we have reached a point in this country's history that i never thought that i would ever see, which is the major credit ratings -- credit ratings agencies have said that our credit rating is in jeopardy
2:57pm
and the united states may face a downgrade of its debt. but, mr. president, you and i both have had our issues with the credit rating agencies who failed to predict the crisis that we were driven into by very, very poor business decisions -- i can't even really call them "business decisions" -- horrible decisions that were made that drove our economy off a cliff, both here and in our financial markets, both in washington among our politicians and among people that securitized debt, sold it off and took no responsibility for it. but having said all of that i don't think these agencies have any political incentive other than to shoot straight on this question of the condition of our debt. one of the greatest assets that we have always had as a country is the steadiness of our credit. countries and investors all over
2:58pm
the world use it to finance transactions that otherwise would be difficult to do because we have a aaa rating on our de debt. and now we're facing a downgrade because we can't even have an adult conversation, a polite conversation here about a path forward. people should be very clear about what this means. this is not just a washington problem. if we blow through our credit rating, and if our interest rates rise by 1 percentage point, just one percentage point, that's going to add $1.3 trillion to the debt over the next ten years. if it goes up two percentage points, that's $2.6 trillion added to the debt over the next ten years, which means we will continue to pay our borrowers' '
2:59pm
-- our borrowers interest and we'll continue to underinvest in our children of this country, in our infrastructure, in our research and development, in all the things that will allow us to compete in the 21st century, and for what? just to pay higher interest rates to people because we couldn't come to an agreement here in washington. i've spent the last two and a half years traveling around the great state of colorado, a state that's complicated politically, which i enjoy, because we're a third republican, a third democratic, and we're a a third independent. and if i had to boil down the essence of what i've heard from people in my state about what they want us to be doing here is they would want us to approach this question the same way they would approach this question. they want us to materially address the problem that we have. they want a material solution to it. they know we can't fix this
3:00pm
overnights, a $1.5 trillion budget deficit and a $15 trillion debt. but they want us to fix it. they want to know that we're all in this together that we all have a rol role to play to solve problem that's too big for any one ever us to solve or any group of us to solve. they want it to be bipartisan because they have no confidence in my state in either party's go-it-alone approach. and i would add a coarl t a coal that and that is we need to satisfy the capital markets that the paper that they bought is actually worth it and the united states of america is going to stand behind that paper and going to be able to stand behind the paper. and this is one of the reasons that i have supported an approach that the gang of six has brought forward because it meets that test. it may not be perfect in all respects, and i know there can be disagreement about it, but that's one of the reasons that i've supported it.
3:01pm
it's bipartisan. it's a measured approach. and i can't say the same for the bill that we're considering today. and, among other things, even if you thought this was a good id idea, even the proponents of the legislation say it would take ten years before this constitutional amendment would take effect. and what we need to be doing over the next ten years is figuring out how to get our fiscal house in order. i have other issues with it as well, but i think the point that i really want to make today is that we need to work together in a bipartisan way to create a measured approach. and you know what else? we can't declare victory then, even when we're able to say to the credit markets, you know what, we've headed off disaster. that didn't used to be our standard as americans. the presiding officer i know, i've heard him on the floor many times talk about the state of the american economy and i agree
3:02pm
with him in his diagnosis. if i had to pick one fact over the last ten years from our mick life -- and i see the senator from oklahoma is here and i'll wrap up in one minute, that worries me the most, it's that median family income has fallen over the last ten years for the first time in this country's history. stagnated for awhile before that, fallen for the first ten years. average family income went up, by the way, over that period of time. median family income has fallen. the cost of higher education has skyrocketed. the cost of health care has skyrocketed. and it is harder and harder for the middle class to get ahead. our economic production in this country today is roughly the same as it was before we went into this recession but we have 14 million fewer people doing the work because they're unemployed. and we need to have a set of tax policies, regulatory policies that are driving innovation in this economy, have an energy
3:03pm
policy that's creating energy independence and make sure we're fiscally responsible. i want to before i leave the floor thank the senator from oklahoma, who's here today. he and i probably don't agree on -- on most things, disagree about a lot of things, but i want to thank him and the other members of the gang of six for the work that they have done. i want to thank him and dick durbin in particular, one of the more liberal members of the senate, for voting for the deficit and debt recommendations that were made by the bipartisan commission that was appointed on the deficit and the debt. it took real courage for him to do that. it took real courage for dick durbin to do that. and it's going to take real courage, it's going to take real courage for the hundred members of this body and for the members of the other body to produce a plan that address this fiscal problem that no one would agree with every single aspect of but that we can come together and agree is worthy of the aspiration as that we have for
3:04pm
our kids and our grandkids. time is very, very short. and if we trip over this debt ceiling and if we fail to uphold the full faith and credit of the united states, no one's going to be asking any one of us what pledge we made about this or what plenl we mad pledge we mad, they're simply going to observe that we were one of a hundred americans out of 300 million americans that let the unthinkable happen to this country. mr. president, thank you for allowing me to speak, and i yield the floor. mr. coburn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: thank you. and i wanted to spend some time talking about what is coming before us saturday morning. as a member of the gang of six,
3:05pm
i'm wanting us to solve our problem. but the best way to solve that problem would be the bill that's going to be voted on on saturday morning. and why is that? you know, we're borrowing $4 billion a day. and i've got enough gray hair to know that regardless of all the good intentions and regardless of all the statements of the members on the floor that we'll never live within our means in washington until we are forced to live within our means. and just because a constitutional amendment would take probably four years to pa pass, given what the american people think about it, isn't a reason not to go on and do it regardless of what we do about our short-term problem coming up august 2. so the very fact that people would say, we're not gonna pass
3:06pm
the cut, cap and balance because it won't happen in a period of time is exactly the same approach that got us $14.3 trillion in debt, that has our credit rating at risk and puts us in the kind of problems that we have today. so i've offered a plan i think is even better. i know not many of my colleagues will, but here's a plan to cut $9 trillion over the next ten years, but it's the only plan that specifically states what you would cut, where you would cut it and why you would cut it. it's backed up with the facts. nobody else can claim that. you don't have to like all of them, but what we do know is if something doesn't come out of this body between now and august 2 that cuts at least $4 trilli $4 trillion, this country's going to see significantly
3:07pm
increased interest rates as a cost of that. and what so often happens is you hear wonderful words and wonderful speeches on the senate floor but nobody putting their name on where you would cut. well, i've put my name on $9 trillion worth of cuts. it pinches everybody in this country, everybody. it pinches everybody. but you know what? we're all in this. we have lived the last 30 years in this country on the backs of those who are going to pay the taxes for the next 30 years. it's time we start paying back. it's time we start giving back. you know, the senate is a different place today than when i came to the senate. when i came to the senate, the idea was not to block legislation but to discuss legislation. to have the courage and the backbone to vote against
3:08pm
something and go home and tell your constituents why you voted against it. to offer amendments that you thought would improve legislation and defend those amendments. and to vote for a bill that you thought was in the best interest of the country and be able to defend that. what's happened the last 3 1/2 years in the senate is we just don't vote because the politicians of the senate don't want to go home and explain their positions. so if you're not voting, you're not accountable and you're not responsible. that type of behavior is exactly the opposite behavior we need to have today. so come saturday morning, when members of the senate vote against proceeding to cut, cap and balance, they will display either courage or cowardice. and i'm not talking about simple words. there is only one plan that has
3:09pm
passed the house of representatives that raises the debt limit and addresses what is said to be needed by the rating agencies and that's cut, cap and balance. and not to allow a vote to proceed -- not to allow proceeding to that debate, whether you agree with it or not, you can change it through amendments. you have the votes to change it through amendments. but to not allow it to proceed so that the american people can see their elected senators and their real positions and what they know has to be done, you know, what really happens around here is we say things so we can protect our political careers. and you know what? what that does is we're not only bankrupting our financial, we're bankrupting our country's
3:10pm
history and heritage. the heritage of this country was sacrificed and that means even sacrifice of a political career to do the right thing right now for the country. i believe if you were to pass something like this, we would lower our debt by at least $2 trillion over the next ten years, the economy would absolutely boom, we would quit undermining self-reliance and enforcing dependency, we would hold accountable a pentagon that's wasteful, we would eliminate duplications of hundreds of programs that all do the same thing with multiple layers of redundancy and administrative bureaucracy. if we were to do that, this bill will never -- this proposal will never come to a vote in the
3:11pm
senate nor any of the aspects of it because senators don't want to make those hard choices. and that's what the debate about cut, cap and balance is all about. forcing senators to go back to embrace the heritage of this country and make the hard choices. because if you don't pass a balanced budget amendment and you don't force the discipline, the political expediency of this country will continue to reign and the problem will not be solved. i would also say, raising the debt limit doesn't have anything to do with our real problems because that's just the stosm the -- that's just the symptom of the problem. the problem is not living within our means. and somehow thinking that the u.s. government is different than all the state governments, all the city and county governments, every family in this country, every business in this country and every other organization in this country that has to live within its means. i cannot believe, i refuse to
3:12pm
believe that the american people will not hold members of the senate accountable for not giving them a chance to put those fixed parameters on us and their government for the future. we're going to hear all sorts of reasons why we can't do that and why we won't do that, or we may not hear many at all, what we'll just see is a vote against proceeding to the procedure with no comment whatsoever. my plan is, if that happens, is to be all over this country to make sure every citizen of every state of every senator who does not allow that to proceed, for them to be aware of that. i want to personally make them aware of that in everything that i can do. because what you're really doing is denying the liberty and the freedom of this country to hold you accountable to do the right thing. so we're going to see. i wanted to spend a few minutes
3:13pm
saying that the only thing that is possible right now to solve the problems in front of us -- the only thing -- even though i've endorsed a $9 trillion plan and a $3.7 trillion plan -- the only thing is this $6 trillion plan because it's passed the house of representatives. they voted to increase the debt limit and they put significant cuts into our budget for next year. they've put significant caps as we go forward, and they've said we've got to vote to pass a balanced budget amendment. right now that's the only thing that will get us out of the jam. and you know what? that's really not that hard to do. first point, we're going to cut $111 billion at least next year, no matter whether that passes or not. we're going to cap spending in the years that go forward whether that bill passes or not. but the difference is, as soon
3:14pm
as we get our balance again, the politicians who don't want to make hard choices will be back to not making hard choices and we'll get in trouble again. and that's why it's absolutely critical that this country's citizens have the ability to hold us accountable within the parameters of living within our means. we'll hear all sorts of reasons why we can't do that, that it might hurt the poor. nobody here wants to in any way intend any -- anything other than support for those who can't help themselves. that's their excuse, we can't do that. well, let me tell you what's going to happen in our country, is the very programs that help the poor, the very programs that help the poor are going to be diminished in the future through fiscal necessity when we are mandated to make cuts to be able to borrow more money.
3:15pm
so it's a false -- it's a false statement, because by not voting to balance the -- for a balanced budget amendment, what you're really saying is i want to claim one thing but i know something else is going to happen. i paraphrased a statement of martin luther king that i think describes this place more than anything i've ever known. and it was this. vanity asks the question is something popular. cowardice asks the question is it expedient. character asks the question is it true and right. and we have tons of vanity, we have tons of cowardice. we limit ourselves on courage and character. as you listen to the debates
3:16pm
over the next two days on this motion to proceed on the only thing that will solve the problem in front of us today, i want you to listen for political expediency. i want you to listen for vanity. and then i want you to search hard to try to find courage and character because you're going to see an absence of it on those that oppose this. they know this will solve the problem. they know this is one of the few things that can pass the house of representatives. and yet, we're not going to deny -- we're not going to have it come to the floor for an amendment process, for a full debate and for a vote, and we're not going to have it for the vote because we're expediently cowards. we do not want to truly address the problem because it might affect our political careers.
3:17pm
that is a sad commentary on the heritage of this country, a sad commentary, but it's a commentary to be expected. otherwise, we would have never gotten into the position we're in today. let me talk about some details of what you can do. we're going to hear all sorts of reasons why you can't do things, all sorts of reasons why you couldn't come up with with $9 trillion, but when the american people really know what's going on, if they really go and read about back in the black, really find out about all the ways, all the duplication, all the stupidity that goes on in our government, all the lack of accountability, the lack of responsibility in bureaucratic agencies, all the silly decisions that get made to spend billions of dollars that don't really help anybody, the tax
3:18pm
code, tax earmarks and tax credits and tax expenditures are nothing but most of the time corporate welfare or socialism. the greatest tax in the world comes when we allow the federal reserve to print money which devalues your assets through inflation and the earnings on those assets. so the greatest tax in the world that's coming for america is that we're going to devalue the value of the dollar and inflation is going to go up and what you can earn on your assets is going to be limited by the interest rates and the differential is that which you actually lose in real value of what you owe every day. the other thing i'd point out is through the tax earmarks and tax credits in our tax code, anybody that doesn't get one of those is actually paying for them.
3:19pm
so if you don't have an in up here, if you don't have a lobbyist, if you don't have some special interests looking out for you and you don't get one of those, you're paying for them through your increased taxes on your part. they are inherently unfair. but let's just look at duplication for a minute. it's interesting to look, as we have gone through the government programs in a detailed fashion with the g.a.o. based on their report, we have 100 different programs with 100 sets of bureaucracies for surface transportation. why do we have that? because congress has mismanaged.
3:20pm
that's why. because of expediency, because of vanity, because of wanting to get re-elected, we create another program and another program. it looks good, sounds good, but nobody ever does the research to see where they overlap, nobody ever require that the metrics say is this program effective and nobody really looks at the constitution to say does it fit with article 1, section 8 of the constitution? the enumerated powers that we are supposed to live within which we blow by all the time doing things. the judiciary committee today passed a bill for state prisons called the second-chance act. when we passed it the first time, i finally let it go because it was supposed to be a demonstration and a limited program. it's now going to get reauthorized for five more years. it's legitimately -- has zero role for the federal government and we're going to spend
3:21pm
spend $600 million on it, which we don't have, we'll borrow. it's well intended, but it's not our role, it's the states' role. and we have hundreds of thousands of things just like that where we have ignored what the constitution says so we can look good politically. we have teacher quality programs, teacher quality programs. 82 different programs by the federal government to improve the quality of our teachers. you know, thomas jefferson was really the father of education in our country. he worked for years to establish the university of virginia. he was committed to the fact that a great education will produce great benefits, not only for the individual with the education but for their family and our country as a whole. here's what he said. for the federal government to become involved in education would require a change to the u.s. constitution, who he happened to be one of the people who wrote it.
3:22pm
and yet, what have we done since the beginning of the department of education? we have spent $2.6 trillion on education in this country at the federal level, and every parameter measuring a metric on the progression of our kids in schools is worse or the same after that $2.6 trillion. i can't tell you, it's not working. and the reason it's not working is you can be a teacher at home and if the federal government looks at you, we don't know what to do, but we can hire to you do the work in washington and all of a sudden you know what they need to do. so we have this massive bureaucracy that has ruined our education because we spend all our money filling out forms and requirements and meeting mandates of the federal education and we have taken the power away of the control of education from the parents and the teachers, the very people who care most about the kids and
3:23pm
education. $2.6 trillion, with nothing to show for it other than for the politicians to feel good about themselves and to say we were doing something. we have 88 different economic development programs, $6 billion just in four of them. economic development. on not one of those 88 programs is there a metric anywhere that says it is money well spent that gets a positive result for the country. there is anecdotal evidence that it worked here, it worked here, but no, we don't know what we are doing. we are throwing money that we don't have on things that we don't know are working and when we go to vote for them, to eliminate them, the senate votes against it because it might bother their political position. it might bother their next election. we don't do it. we don't address and do our job. i'll never forget, in one of the
3:24pm
committees i was in last year, two separate times, bills were brought up to the committee that were -- that would do identical things that we were already doing in the agencies, and the senator and their staff didn't know it. and had i not raised objections, we would have created more agencies. 80 programs for transportation assistance. 80? if it's our role, why do we need 80? and oh, by the way, has anybody measured to see if any of the 80 actually work? the answer is no. we have none that have a report on whether or not they are effective to the goals of what they were set out to do because there is no oversight carried out by congress. we were so busy earmarking for so many years, everybody forgot to check and see, what we intended to do, is it working. and we're still not doing it. we have 56 different programs to teach the american people to
3:25pm
become financially literate. 56? us, the federal government, teaching financial literacy when we can't balance our budget, we have multiple programs, we don't live within a confined budget. the first principle of financial literacy is living within your means. and yet, we have this many programs, 56, to teach american citizens to be financially literate? job training, here's one of my best. this is -- this is great. we have 47 job training programs that cost $16 billion a year. all but three overlap one another. that's what the g.a.o. says, and there is not a metric on one of them to see if they're working. and when you talk to the people that go through the program, half of them say it's a waste, it's a joke, because i have actually talked to them, and yet we're spending that kind of
3:26pm
money, in excess of $15 billion a year on job training programs? now, there is no question we need job training programs, but we need job training programs that work. and why would we need 47? so when somebody tells you we can't balance our budget, you ought to blow a hole right through them with your thought that says you obviously don't know what's going on in the federal government. homeless prevention assistance, 20 different federal programs. now, we should be helping people who need our help, i'm not denying that, but how we help and the mechanisms of how we help ought to be frugal, efficient and effective. you know, i have served in congress, i'm in my 13th year. six years as congressman, four years out of here to get a breath of fresh air, and now my
3:27pm
seventh year in the senate. what i know is we don't know what we're doing. and it's obvious looking at our budget. it's also obvious looking at the dysfunction of the senate and the leadership in the senate that we don't want -- we haven't had a budget in two years. the one thing any financial counselor will tell you is the first thing you have got to know is where you are and set a plan. we have had no attempt to bring a budget to this body in well over two and a half years, no attempt. what does that tell you? it goes back to vanity. it goes back to cowardice. it goes back to us not doing what we're intended to do because we care more about our position than we care about the country. we have 18 programs to feed the hungry. we have 17 disaster response
3:28pm
preparedness just in fema. 17 different programs, of which 11 overlap. now, fema didn't set those up. the bureaucracy didn't create those. we did. every one of these programs was created by a member of congress. so you can't blame administrations and you can't blame presidents. what you have to do is blame congress. we have 130 overlapping programs in the department of agriculture, 18 overlapping programs in the department of commerce, 230 overlapping programs at the department of education, 17 in the department of energy, 36 in the department of human services, 2 in the department of homeland security, 60 in the department of housing and urban development, 40 in the department of interior, 53 in the department of justice, 35 in the department of labor, six in the department of state and 180 governmentwide if you look at all economic development programs, 180.
3:29pm
and we just listed the 88 that run through four of the agencies. is it any wonder that we're going belly up? and the problem is us. the problem is we've got a solution now that's come to us from the house and we're not going to let that solution go forward because politically, politically it's uncomfortable. politically, we don't want to allow the people of this country to decide whether or not we ought to live within our means and put a bridle with a bit in our mouth that says whoa, you're not going to continue to destroy the future of this country and the prospects for our children any more. when i came to the senate, i came after having read a book called "running on empty."
3:30pm
it was written by a nonnamed pete peterson. he was bipartisan in his criticism of both parties, and he was absolutely accurate. we're in trouble because parties matter more than the country, because control matters more than the country, that political careers matter more than our children or our grandchildren. i go back and talk about what's possible. a lot of people will disagree with what's in here. this $9 trillion which the house has sent us, we'll take about 600% of. here -- we'll take about 60% of. here's what i say to my colleagues who don't want to vote on a balanced budget amendment, don't want to vote on
3:31pm
cut, cap, and balance, where's your plan? i've listed cuts, specific cuts, elimination of waste, elimination of fraud in this, 3,000 footnotes, looked at every program throughout the federal government, looked at every c.r.s. report, looked at every o.i.g., every o.m.b. report and looked at every other outside report that we could find. the fact is we could solve our problems tomorrow, america. we could solve them tomorrow with good, old-fashioned common sense that the vast majority of americans have and is sorely lacking. we don't have a fiscal crisis. we have a commonsense crisis in this body and in the leadership in congress. we lack common sense. we lack sound judgment. and we need the hard bit of a bridle put on us through a balanced budget amendment to control us, because human nature
3:32pm
is human nature. and whatever we do today, we'll be back to our bad habits tomorrow. even if we pass cuts, even if we cap spending, if we don't have a balanced budget amendment that forces us to live within the constraints of our revenue, we will be back there again. and what does that stphaoepb that means the few -- what does that mean? that means the future of america is suspect. it doesn't have to be. we don't have to go the way of every other republic. we don't have to fail over fiscal issues. we can cheat thinks try. the american people are the greatest people in the world because they are a blend of all the people in the world and they desire freedom and opportunity. and that's limited because we've limited it. through our profligate spending, inattention to detail, our failure to do oversight, we have undercut the potential of our country. let's restore it.
3:33pm
let's restore it. let's restore it saturday morning by moving on to this bill and allowing ourselves to have a debate, offer amendments and really debate. have what the senate hasn't had in a year and a half, a real debate about the issues of our day and the reasons behind it. but what i would caution the american people is remember what martin luther king said as you hear that debate. vanity asks the question: is it popular? cowardice asks the question is it expedient. but conscience, conscience and right and good asks: is it right? i'll tell you, it's not right to have multiple programs doing the same thing, wasting our kids' future. it's not right for the congress not to oversight and eliminate programs.
3:34pm
it's not right for us to spend money we don't have on things we don't absolutely need. it's not right for us to take the control out of the children's education, from the parents and teachers who have the best, their best interest at heart and place it in a bureaucracy that has no compassion whatsoever, even though it feigns that it does. it's not right. maybe politically expedient, maybe popular to some people. but it doesn't make it right. so as you look, here is how you get $9 trillion. and you can pick any part of that and meet this cut, cap, and balance, or you can come up with your own. but the fact is nobody wants to lay on the table what they think. i've already been roundly criticized in the press for certain aspects of this; people who disagree. that's fine. i plan on defending everything that i put in here with the best of my knowledge and a great staff that spent thousands upon thousands of hours.
3:35pm
we came up with a way to solve america's problems, and we can do it. america can be bright, can be growing, can be developing jobs if we get the government out of the way and limit the role of the federal government. i see my colleague from delaware, one of my great friends. you hear that said a lot here, but he is a great friend. it's not the conventional just common greeting. i believe i'm over my time. i will be back to the floor to finish this conversation. but america needs to know we don't have any problem we can't fix. what we lack is leaders who will fix it. that's our deficit. it's a deficit of courage. it's a deficit of will. and with that, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: madam president, thank you very much for this time to speak. about dr. coburn leaves the floor, thank you for the kind
3:36pm
things you just said. the senator from coburn, a lot of people say that's an unlikely duo that would end up working together as much as we have and actually have a sense of trust and friendship. there are things that people certainly find in me not to like, and the same is true of all of us. but i would say there is nobody in the senate who cares more about getting our deficit under control. he and i think dick durbin have shown terrific courage and leadership along with others in this so-called gang of six, and also as members of the deficit commission, in trying to get us to a comprehensive bipartisan solution of how do we rein in the budget deficit without destroying our economy, making sure we don't pierce the debt ceiling and have our financial world begin to crumble around us. i very much appreciate what he said today. i heard most of it, not all of it, but a chance to work with him on a number of areas where what we tried to do -- and
3:37pm
senator mccaskill who is presiding at this moment, what we try to do is look in every nook and cranny of the federal government on this defense spending whr-rbgs it's entitlement spending, whether it's domestic spending, we look at tax expenditures, tax breaks and so forth. we look at all of them. we ask this question: how can we get a better result, whether it's health care, transportation, defense? how can we get a better result for less money or how can we get a better result for not much more money? we need to do that across our government. we need to change the culture of federal government to sort of a culture of spendthrift which a lot of people think we operate under, we have to change it to a culture of thrift. not just for a couple of weeks, a couple of months, a couple of years. i mean as far as the eye can see where these pages who are sitting in front of me who are rising juniors in high school until they are rising juniors in
3:38pm
college, out into the world and well beyond that. that's what we need to do. that's part of our obligation. that's part of our obligation. one of the recommendations -- i'm going to go back, over a year ago when we voted here on whether or not to create a deficit commission that would have a number of members who would be responsible, some elected, some not; they would have the responsibility to look across federal government and to come back to us at a date certain with ways to rein in the federal deficit, get us back on a more fiscally sustainable and responsible track. we voted in the senate. the presiding officer will recall not all the folks who were cosponsors of the deficit commission creation actually ended up voting for it. in fact, seven of them who were cosponsors -- as i recall i don't think any of them were on this side of the aisle, some of
3:39pm
them voted against it and we didn't have the vote to actually create the deficit commission. with that happening, a number of us encouraged the president to use his executive powers and create one by executive order. he did that, and last year the deficit commission was created. there were 18 people named to it. 12 were elected, six were not. and named two cochairs. one erskine bowles. erskine bowles. who is is he e? er skin was chief of staff for president clinton. and he was asked by president clinton to negotiate a deficit-reduction package with the republican house and senate. at that time the republicans were in the majority in the house and senate during those years. and president clinton saiderskine, go out and negotiate a deficit-reduction deal, some on the spending side, some on the revenue side so we can follow up -- an early package was adopted in 1993 with
3:40pm
only democratic votes. he said let's see if we can't actually balance our budget. we hadn't done it since 1968. god bless erskine bowles and the folks he negotiated with. he went to work in 1997, came up with a deficit-reduction package, 50% revenues, 50% spending that had everything on the table. long story short, we ended up with a balanced budget not one, not two, i think at least three years in a row at the end of the clinton administration, and handed it off to a new administration. balanced budget surpluses as far as the eye could see. i remember alan greenspan testifying, i think, before the banking committee. alan greenspan was the federal reserve chairman. he said he was concerned at the time that we were going to pay down our debt too soon, too fast. i mentioned to him later that that concern was misplaced because we certainly didn't pay down our deficit too fast. we turned, starting ten years ago we turned our black ink
3:41pm
surpluses as far as the eye could see to red ink, to stp*euts as far as the eye can -- to deficits as far as the eye can see. a lot of people like to reinvent history. they say we didn't do too much to reduce deficits in the years 1993 to 2000. two big votes, all democrats in 19973. in 1997 the republicans in the house negotiated with the president. those two, we balanced the budget not once, not twice, three times. created something like 21 million new jobs. and ended up the last decade, actually the decade before that, ending in the year 2000 with a balanced budget and most productive workforce on the face of the earth. those were halcyon days for our country. we need to get back to that. naming the cochair of the
3:42pm
deficit commission goes back to an earlier president, taps erskine bowles. on the republican side, we've got alan simpson, republican from wyoming, as maybe the funniest person who served in the u.s. senate. he's also one of the most insightful, commonsense deficit hawk and a great guy to be a partner with. they work together. we had 12 members of the house and senate. some other folks from civilian life. cody, chairman of hunt c.e.o., among the private-sector participants. they worked for months, gathered input from all kinds of sources and came up with a broad-based plan that was recommended, adopted, endorsed by 11 out of the 18 commissioners. and that wasn't -- 14 was the magic threshold. for it to actually be official, the official recommendation of the commission. but it was a majority. it included three republican
3:43pm
senators. judd gregg, the senator from new hampshire, tom coburn, mike crapo. and i thought courageous republican senators. on our side, kent conrad and dick durbin. i want to say mike. he's been a real leader. i'm not sure if he was the third democrat. long story short, maybe it was -- the third democrat i think was john scranton, chairman of the house budget committee. anyway, those three democrats, three republicans basically agreed to a package that said let's reduce the deficit over the next ten years by $4 trillion. let's do it mostly on the spending side, two-thirds to three-quarters on the spending side. but let's have revenues as well. they didn't propose raising the rates. what they actually proposed was to reduce the rates for business, for other advanced
3:44pm
countries, from 29% to roughly 25%. to reduce personal income tax rates for middle-income tax and reduce the upper income from somewhere in the mid30's to high 20's. at the same time we would eliminate the so-called tax expenditures. the tax expenditures -- what are tax expenditures? they're tax breaks. some of them are called loopholes. actually a lot of them are meritorious, mortgage deduction, deductions that will encourage people to make charitable donations. a lot of people would say we don't want to tkpweut rid of that. -- get rid of that. if you add up those tax expenditures over the next ten years, you know what it adds up to? $15 trillion. and if we only were able to somehow reduce that by 8% or 9%,
3:45pm
we would come up with the revenues that were called for in the simpson-bowles deficit commission to be part of a $4 trillion package. in order to be able to bring the rates down to, lower the rates, broaden the base, in order to do that we're going to have to take more than 8% or 9% out of tax expenditures. may have to be reduced by as much as 50%. by the end of the day we should preserve the deduction for the interest we pay on mortgages especially for our primary home and also to encourage travel deduction. i think we ought to encourage people to continue to get a deduction for charitable donations and there are others as well. those are the big ones. that was the sum and stance of s the sum and stains of what they came up for. what are entitlement programs? things that we're entitled to by virginia tie of our age, if we
3:46pm
are 65 years of age, we paid into social security, medicare, we may be eligible -- will be eligible in all likelihood for medicare f we're disabled, totally disabled to work, we'll be eligible for medicare, even before age 65. if we paid into social security for a number of years, we'll be eligible foyer early retirement for sact age 62. we can take it at 67 for full retirement benefits, which i think are roughly about $2,000 per month max, something like that. but anyway, those are some things -- medicare, medicaid, social security are entitlement programs. they said they should all be on the table. they did not propose using social security to balance the budget but what they did say is say we've got a long-term problem in social security with the imbalance between now the amount of money that is coming into social security and the amount of money that's going out. as the baby boomers are starting to retire, my generation, we are paying out now for the first time in a long time more in social security benefits than we are raising. and the reason why, for today it
3:47pm
is roughly for every one person receiving social security benefits, about two and a half people are working. and before long, it'll be every one person receiving social security benefits, about two people working, paying into social security. the flow of the -- the mismatch of inflows into social security versus the outflows is going to get worse, not better. sometime in a couple decades down the road, we're going to start running out of money to pay 100% of social security benefits. we won't allow it to stop altogether but we'll have to give them a pretty serious haircut. i was a freshman congress mn sworn in on january 3, 20 -- 198 p 3. the day i was sworn in, the other end of the capitol, they told my freshman class, we're going to run out of money in social security. that's what they said. we said, when? like a couple of decades or when? and they sid, no, this year. this year. and we said, are we going to,
3:48pm
like, provide a haircut, reduce social security payments? they said, nuh-uh, we're going to stop making them. because we're running out of money in the social security trust fund. that's where we were on january 3, 1983. thanks to the work of a commission, led by alan greenspan and others, but the good work they did then, they handed to hav us a solution. new source of revenue for social security and some reductions in benefits, gradually raising full retirement age over the period of 25 years from 65 tow 678, requiring more people to pay into social security, state and local employees among others. i thought it was a balanced plan. ronald reagan provided political cover for the democrats. tip o'neill provided cover to the republicans to vote for that. and almost everybody, house, senate, democrat, and republican draining the kool-aid and voted
3:49pm
to preserve social security and preserve it for another 25 years. we since the have to stop paying social security benefits that year or the next year or the year after that. we had significant surpluses going up in the social security trust fund that now is beginning to be paid down. but we're going tosh the fund is going to be going in the wrong direction in the years to come, and over time the outlevel will increase. do we wait until the 1920's or the 1930's to do something about it? i don't think we should. i swore -- was it 28 years ago? i didn't want to hand off to the next generation the problems we should solve today. we have the opportunity not to use social security to balance the budget but under the plan that's been sort of reworked from the bowles-simpson deficit comirks the opportunity to secure social security for the next 75 years, and to do it in a
3:50pm
way that involves a number of i think relatively modest -- relevantlrelatively modest chan. increase social security age from 67 to 68 by 2006, just remember when social security was first introduced, signed into law by f.d.r. back in the 1930's, people -- you had to be 65 years of age in order to receive social security benefits. the average life expectancy then was just over age 60. think about that. back then you had to live to be 65 to draw benefits. the life expectancy for most people under 65 is between 60 and 65. we're talking today with a life expectancy of closer to 80. for people still to get early benefits for early retirement benefits under social security at age 62 but to cradually increase it to full retirement age as well.
3:51pm
i think they're relatively modest changes. when you put them all together over many years, they can put social security on a safe footing for another 70-75 years. and the side to actually loll that off from the rest of the problems. we're basically preserving social security for a lot longer, for really my life span and the life span of these young pages who are about 16 years of age or so, throughout their lifetimes as well. on medicare -- let me talk about medicare, health care for people 65 and over, people that are totally disabled under the age of 65 and unable to work. we will spend this year about $550 billion in medicare, about $550 billion. the amount of fraud in medicare -- eric holder, our attorney general, tells us that fraud last year for medicare was about $60 billion. that's roughly 10% of the amount of montana that we spend in medicare.
3:52pm
$60 billion, roughly 10%. there's -- g.a.o., general accountability office, keeps track of something else called improper payments. and one of things that g.a.o. does is tell us every year how much we're making in improper payments across the board. they said last year it was about $125 bsm that's different from fraud. it's just overpayments, accounting mistakes, that sort of thing. $50 billion in improper payments for medicare and another $60 billion, according to eric holder, just from fraud. that's more -- these actually, if those numbers are triewrks $60 billion out of $550 billion in medicare payments, that's actually more than 10%. well, let's just say it's only 10% or close to 10%. how are they doing over in the private sector? how are they doing in terms of controlling fraud? well, their fraud costs are not 10% of they are costs.
3:53pm
that's probably not a surprise. they're not 9%, 8%, 7%. on balance they're probably closer to 5%, in some cases less than 5%. roughly half over there, fraud costs in medicare. maybe they're doing something in the private sector to control fraud in ways we can learn from in the federal government. if we can learn those lessons, maybe we can provide better results for less money in medicare. let me give you a couple of examples. improper payments, $50 billion, mistakes, that kind of thing. separate from fraud. ththe president says we'll cut t in half by the end of next year, from $50 billion to $25 billion. if we do that for ten years -- ten years times $25 billion, what does that add up to? $250 billion. that's real money around here, a quarter of a trillion dollars. if eric holder, our a.g., is right, if we could cut that in
3:54pm
half, and we put in the health care law, the new health care law all kind of tools to do that kind of thing, if we can cut that in half, that would be a savings of $30 billion a year. over ten years that's $3 00 billion. $300 billion in potential fraud savings, $1250 billion in potential saiivelings by cutting in half improper payments for medicare. that's $550 billion. it's over a half a trillion dollar. for those who say we have t -- let me tell you just to give you a sense for where some of the money has been lost in fraud, there's something -- i've learn add new term this last week called the def mas master files. we're trying to keep track of the folks that are dying so that
3:55pm
when people die they're getting social security, we don't continue sending out social security checks forever for people who are dead. the same thing with folks who are eligible for other benefits, whether they're benefits for, whether they happen to be educational benefits or health benefits, we don't want to pay benefits for folks who are not with us anymore. and by the same token, we want to make sure when doctors dirks we don't face the possibility that somebody steals their provider i.d. number, the medicare provider i.d. number or their medicaid provider i.d. number, if they have one, and write prescriptions for, among other things, controlled substances. because what we have today is crooks, criminals, stealing provider i.d. doctors from dead doctors and using those to write prescriptions for controlled substances which then feed the drug trade and provide profits to criminal groups. g.a.o. told us in a most recent report that in terms of buying wheelchairs, we spend about $200
3:56pm
million a year or two ago, over half of them were written and prescribed for people who are medically ineligible for the wheelchairs. we got to be smarter than that. over in japan -- i have my friend from florida signature over here waiting for me. i'll close with this. as he knows, and we serve together in the finance committee and used to serve together in the house -- an old friend and a good one -- as we wrestle with health care reform legislation a year or two ago, one of the things we hrd in our hearings was over in japan wees compete against japan -- friendly competition, but they're our competedder in a lost ways, electronics, cars, any number of products. we compete against them. they spend about 8% of g.d.p. for health care. we spend 16%. they get better results. longer life longevity, less infant mortality. they get better results. they spend half as much, they get better results. they cover everybody.
3:57pm
they cover everybody. i'd like to say, they can't be that smart. as smart as they are in japan, they can't be that smart. and we can't be that dumb. and there are any number of ways that we can actually save money that does not reduce benefits in medicare or medicaid and we can learn from some of the things that they're doing to recover fraud and just navigate some of the idea overs to the public sector and use -- find out what works -- i like to say this, alan blinder testified before us a couple of months ago -- a month or two ago as bill will remember. alan blinder said in terms of reducing the deficit, i'm not an expert on this thing. but here's my advice to you: find out what works, do more of that. think of that. fientsdfind out whatworks, do m. in congres if we do that kind og rntionz if we just make that really a cultural change going
3:58pm
forward, we'll get us back on the right track. that's our challenge. it's not just dernlings not just republicans, not just the congress. we're all in this together. and in closing, that's a good thing for us to remember. we're all in this together. we don't have all the smart ideas on this side, neither do the republicans. got to be a combination of spending and revenues and if we're smart about it, we'll come out of this at the end of the day just fine. thank you, and with that, i yield the floor to my friend from florida. mr. nelson: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: madam president, i know the senator from massachusetts has time and i just wanted to take this time while he is coming into the chamber to say that the drumbeat -- you can almost hear the background very foreboding music as we are counting down the days, and here we are in a situation in which we cannot get
3:59pm
a certain group of people over in the house of representatives to be willing to sit down and, as the good book says, to come let us reason together. and if we're going to govern in country, we have to come and reason together. people of good will who will respect each other's point of view to hammer out a final agreement in order to start bringing this country into balance. and it's sad that it is taking this long and this much of a difficult, torturous process. madam president, on a much happier note, at a subsequent time, i want to share with the senate the wonderful heritage
4:00pm
that we have in this country not from the english but from the spanish, and we are about to celebrate 500 years of the discovery of what is now america, the united states, from a spanish explorer, ponts day lee onwho first came to the shores of my state and then soon thereafter we will celebrate the 450th anniversary of the oldest continuous settlement, a settlement that is 42 years before the english came and settled jamestown. and those celebrations are going to be not just for florida and not just for st. augustine but for all of florida and all of the country. we have a commission that has been appointed by the secretary of the interior. we have just kicked off that
4:01pm
commission and i will be sharing with the senate a lot about this historical restoration in the public's mind of all of those spanish explorers that helped establish this country, first with ponce de leon in 1513, and he came back in 1539. by the way, the puerto rican community is quite energized and excited about that because ponce de leon, when he came and found at the feast deflowers, pasca de flores -- and thus he named la florida -- he was the governor of puerto rico. so they are quite excited, as they should be, and going to be part of this celebration. and after him came a spanish explorer that sailed up the
4:02pm
coast named dae ayone. later in 1527 came a spanish explorer, narviace. he landed somewhere in the stamp aregion and went up into the -- in the tampa region and went up into the panhandle of florida. after him came the spanish floridaer hernando de soto in the late 1530's. he ended up also in the tampa bay region when all over florida celebrated the first christmas because he had spanish priests with him and was in what is today sal haas tallahassee by cs day they celebrated the first christian christmas by europeans in this new world of what is now
4:03pm
the united states. and that was the late 1530's. and then he ended up traveling all over the u.s., southern -- what is now the southern -- southeastern u.s. and then along came de luna, thinking he would have the first permanent settlement in 1559 in pensacola. and in 1961, along came a hurricane and wiped them out. we had the king and queen of spain in pensacola on that anniversary back in 2009. and then later came the french thinking they were going to set up the first permanent settlement at fort caroline, at the mouth of what is today the st. john's river at jacksonville in 1564, but when they heard
4:04pm
that the spanish explorer menendez had come 30 miles to the south to set up this permanent settlement at st. augustine, they sailed to wipe out the spanish colony and instead got hit by a hurricane and were shipwrecked and were, thus, dispatched by the spanish explorer menendez. and from there, st. augustine continued all the way to the present day. you ought to see that restored city. it is a sight to behold and it is not only the history of st. augustine, the history of florida, it is the history of this united states. and so, madam president, i'll share a lot more about our spanish history, our roots in
4:05pm
this country. and i thank the senator from massachusetts for his kind indulgence so that i might share this with the senate. madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: thank you. the senator from massachusetts is recognized. mr. kerry: madam president, thank you very much. and i congratulate the senator from florida. i'm delighted to accommodate him and join with all floridians in a good celebration of a great part of our history. madam president, obviously everybody in america is more than well aware that the date of august 2 is fast coming at us and they are also unfortunately well aware that the united states senate and the congress
4:06pm
appear to be stuck yet again at this moment. in fact, here in the senate, we're debating a constitutional amendment to balance the budget instead of balancing the budget. i've heard of a lot of side-steps around here but this is what they call a message amendment and it's sending a pretty mixed message to america. but what we, in effect, ought to be doing here is not trying to pass a piece of paper that tells us to do what we know we ought to do. we ought to be doing it. and what we ought to be doing is stopping our country from defaulting on debt that has already been obligated. what people are refusing to do in the house and on the other side of the aisle is live up to our obligations.
4:07pm
this is not suggesting that we're giving permission to borrow more money, to spend money on something irresponsible in the future. this is paying the debts of our country, money already spent, already obligated. and here we have a so-called cut, cap, balance act that passed the house of representatives. it is, everybody understands, nothing more than an ideological message exercise. everybody knows it's not going to pass the senate. and we know even more that if it did pass the senate, it's not going to be signed by the president of the united states. so what it's doing is taking up time that we ought to be spending with a real solution on the floor of the senate that addresses the needs and concerns of the american people. we ought to be reaching that compromise.
4:08pm
what this does, unfortunately, is, in terms of message, send the message to the american people that this place may not quite get it still and that a lot of folks here are more prepared to play politics than to really engage in the real business of our nation. if you looked at the specifics of this constitutional amendment that is not going to pass, it's divided into three parts and each and every one of them are equally problematic. the cut part would require immediate cuts that would cut almost 1% of our g.d.p., which economists tell us would result in the immediate loss of 700,000 jobs. so they're coming to the floor with a program to actually cut 700,000 jobs at a time that most americans believe job creation
4:09pm
is the single-most important thing that we could do here in the country as well as avoid defaulting on our debt. the cap part locks into place the unrealistic spending levels that the house passed in their budget while at the same time preserving hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthiest americans and tax loopholes for the biggest corporations. the balance part, you almost don't even have to comment on that. i think every american scratches their head and says, "what?" they're going to put in these unrealistic caps that would strip away research and development, education funding, the ability of kids to go to college, all of the things on which you build the future job base of our country, strip that away. but, hey, let's preserve the tax
4:10pm
cuts for the wealthiest people in the country, who, incidentally, may be investing the benefits of those tax cuts in china or in india or job creation in many other places other than here. and the balance part of this amendment requires the passage of a balanced budget constitutional amendment that would require a supermajority to raise any new revenue or close any wasteful tax loopholes. so in other words, you don't have to have a supermajority to decide where and what you're going to wind up spending but you have to have a supermajority in order to raise any revenue or close an egregious tax loophole. one that may have no economic purpose, may be completely outdated, may be a sweetheart deal that got into the tax code over o the course of the years,
4:11pm
but you still have to get a supermajority to get rid of that. everybody here knows how hard it is to get 60 votes. a lot of the business in the united states senate has been caught up by the eternal filibuster. every single nomination, every single small piece of legislation that comes to the floor of the senate, everything requires a motion to proceed which requires 60 votes, which is effectively a filibuster each time. and we've had a record number of filibusters in the united states senate compared to any other time in the entire history of the united states of america. so requiring a two-thirds supermajority -- two-thirds supermajority -- would lock in gridlock, would lock in bad policies for the future. and the constitutional amendment that is proposed would make all revenue raising measures
4:12pm
unconstitutional else in secured a two-thirds supermajority in both the house and the senate. now, again, i repeat, we do not need a piece of paper, new one, we do not need an amendment to the constitution, a group of words, to tell us to do our du duty. every single member of the senate raised their hand and took an oath of office right over here beside the presiding officer and said they promised to uphold the constitution of the united states. all we need is the courage and the conviction to make the compromises and do the business of the united states senate. and it's not going to get any easier just because you pass some words that tell you to do it. we did this in the 1990's. what i'm talking about is not
4:13pm
pie-in-the-sky. it's not some theory. we balanced the budget in the 1990's and we did it without a constitutional amendment. we did it. we had people of good commonsense who came together and we voted the compromises and we not only balanced the budget, we created a $5.6 trillion surplus for america and at the same time we created 23 million new jobs for americans. and guess what? while we balanced the budget in a sensible way, without artificial caps and artificial draconian instructions but with common sense while we did it, every single quintile of american earners -- income earners rose in their income. every single american quintile saw their incomes go up. america got richer than at any
4:14pm
time in america's history, even as we balanced the budget without a balanced budget amendment. so i'll tell ya, if -- if we go down the road that our friends on the other side of the aisle are proposing, you would see major reductions in medicare, major reductions much worse than what the ryan budget has proposed. social security beneficiaries would receive a $3,000 reduction in average recipient benefits within ten years and be forced to see deeper cuts down the road. i think it is safe to say, without exaggeration, it would put an end to social security and medicare as we know them today. 6 this week aaron maskin, robert solo and allen blender, each
4:15pm
nobel laureates in economics, and other renowned economists sent an open letter to president obama and the congress in strong opposition to a constitutional balanced budget amendment. and these economists stated that a balanced budget requirement to the constitution would be a very unsound policy that would adversely affect the economy. they believe adding arbitrary caps on federal expenditures would make the balanced budget amendment even more problematic, and a balanced budget amendment would mandate per veers actions in the face of recessions. by requiring large budget cuts when the economy is weakest, the amendment would actually aggravate recessions. mr. president, -- madam president, in the 27 years that i have been privileged to serve here, we have already debated this several times. and we have voted on it. as i have said in the past, the
4:16pm
most compelling argument against this amendment doesn't come from me or from anybody on the floor. it actually comes from the real experts, the people who frame the constitution of the united states. if they were here on the senate floor today, they would vote against this amendment because it violates the constitution's basic tenet, which is majority rule, and the motion that the most fundamental document of law can be set aside for a time is ludicrous and it's an anathema to the reasons for having the government document it all. i have some more to say on this, but i notice the majority leader is now on the floor with other colleagues, and i suspect he has something to share with us, so i would yield the floor to the majority leader. mr. reid: i would ask that my friend be recognized such as his statement not appear interrupted, and that when i finish my statement, that he be recognized to finish his. the presiding officer: without
4:17pm
objection, so ordered. the majority leader. mr. reid: i want everyone to know who has any interest in this piece of legislation on the floor today that this is the time to come and debate it to their heart's content. if they want to debate it late tonight, we're here to do it late tonight. if they want to debate it tomorrow for a period of time, they can do that, but i'm going to -- i think this piece of legislation is about as weak and senseless as anything that has ever come on this senate floor, and i am not going to waste the senate's time day after day on this piece of legislation which i think is an anathema to what our country is all about. so everyone understand, we're going to have a vote tomorrow. i'm not going to wait until saturday. we're going to have a vote tomorrow. i feel confident that this legislation will be disposed of one way or the other. the american people should understand that this is a bad piece of legislation. perhaps some of the worst
4:18pm
legislation in the history of this country. mr. kerry: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. kerry: i gather my comments won't be interrupted, but frankly after what the majority leader has said, i don't think i need to go on with my speech, to be truthful with you. i just ask unanimous consent that the full text be placed in the record as if read in full. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. kerry: and i -- i hope that we will move quickly to the real business which is avoiding default. coming up with a -- let me just say, madam president, i think there is one effort we ought to be engaged in, and that is the serious effort of passing the mcconnell-reed, -- mcconnell-reid, reid-mcconnell, whatever you want to call it. their initiative is not kicking anything down the road. their initiative requires just like base closing commission for the united states senate to deal with the big deal in a very
4:19pm
short period of time. if colleagues want to speed that period of time up, i wouldn't object. i think that would make sense. but what we need to do is recognize that in the next few days, we do not have the time to put the kind of common sense to the task that will allow us to get the budget figures from the c.b.o., that will allow us to know with certainty that what we're doing with medicare or social security or medicaid or all of these other important initiatives are being done in the most deliberative and thoughtful way possible. that's what this institution is supposed to be about. that's what separates the united states senate. this is often called the world's most deliberative body but it hasn't been particularly deliberative on this subject in the past months. we have an opportunity with the reid-mcconnell initiative to be able to put in place a process that will guarantee that we have up-or-down votes on
4:20pm
these critical issues after all the relevant committees have had the opportunity to weigh in, using perhaps the commission -- the budget commission's report, together with what the so-called gang of six -- i don't think it's a particularly appropriate name -- but with what they have proposed which i think is a very constructive and important contribution to the debate, and it helps us to have a starting point for this discussion as congress in the next short period of time can actually fashion the kind of budget decision that benefits america and does credit to this institution as a truly deliberative body. that's what i hope we will do, and i look forward to working with my colleagues in an effort to make that happen. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia.
4:21pm
without objection, so ordered. mr. rockefeller: madam president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. rockefeller: for no more than 15 minutes, hopefully. madam president, yesterday, at the direction of their leadership, the house passed an f.a.a. extension. unlike the 20 previous f.a.a. extensions, their extension included changes to f.a.a. policy that had not been agreed to by both the house and the senate. both chambers. what is the effect? the effect is that this move will begin to shut down the federal aviation administration. beginning tomorrow at midnight, if we do not reach agreement on a sensible path forward to pass a clean f.a.a. extension bill. the consequences of an f.a.a. shutdown will be severe.
4:22pm
this is not about me or the content of the extraneous provisions in the house bill. this is about being responsible and doing the necessary work to ensure that our aviation system continues to function at its highest level while congress completes its business. over the past four years, which is how long we have been negotiating this bill, we have been able to work together to do the right thing each time the f.a.a. authorities were about to expire. congress has consistently acted to pass extensions to make certain that the nation's air transportation system continues to operate safely. therefore, we have passed 20 extensions over four years, waiting to do the work that we need to do for an enormous federal agency. in only one case were policy changes made during the consideration of an f.a.a.
4:23pm
extension, and that was last year. airline safety measures were included because both the house and the senate negotiators agreed to them, and the extension passed unanimously in both chambers. you don't pass an extension which has policy riders on it unless they have been agreed to by both chambers. it's very unfortunate that the house is taking a rash approach to pass a bill when we have made so much progress in negotiating a complete f.a.a. reauthorization package. from the time that the house passed the f.a.a. reauthorization, we have had more than three months of productive negotiations where staff engaged in more than 30 meetings, spent hundreds of hours developing this legislation. over this period, we have worked the entire number of items to be resolved from 281 separate
4:24pm
issues to approximately 10 separate issues provisions of consequence. house and senate negotiators have compiled more than 300 pages of text for a bill. all of the components of the legislation represent a needed -- needed aviation policy changes that will improve the country's air space system. i remind you that our country, unlike virtually any other in the modern world, basically uses radar as a way to approach landing or takeoff. it's -- it's embarrassing, it's ridiculous. i have been able to negotiate with the house science committee and the house homeland security committee to develop workable agreements on all of our policy differences to other committees in the house. the main items that need to be made final are difficult, yes,
4:25pm
partisan provisions that fall within the jurisdiction of the house transportation and infrastructure committee, t.&i., as they say, and as chairman, john mica. the house bill was developed in a partisan manner. it had a number of problematic provisions added during floor consideration. central to these was the decision to include language that would reverse a national mediation board decision from the previous year. the national mediation board, the n.m.b. provision, was so tainted that it passed by just seven votes in the house, which is overwhelmingly republican. it passed by just seven votes. consideration of the final f.a.a. package passed in the house by a party-line vote of 223-196. ultimately, the house f.a.a. reauthorization bill garnered the narrowest vote margin for a
4:26pm
house f.a.a. reauthorization bill in almost 30 years. i'm talking about the house of representatives. as the house well knows, the white house has threatened on numerous occasions to veto any f.a.a. package that includes the house's national mediation board language. the house's addition of policy riders to the extensions that have been considered as part of the f.a.a. discussions represent an abandonment in my judgment of the good-faith negotiations we have been engaged in for the last three months. the house acted without consulting the senate on this f.a.a. extension, without engaging the senate on putting policy riders into their extension, from their actions in public statements, it's clear that this effort is designed to force the hand of the congress on the national mediation board provision that president obama has singled out as a reason to
4:27pm
veto the legislation. that's the legislation which basically says that if you have a vote for a union or for whatever and you're not present and don't vote, your vote is automatically counted as null. this is a whole new concept of democracy in america, one which is very strange and very wrong. the house claims that negotiations on the f.a.a. bill had been stalled over the n.m.b. issue but they have simply not done their work. it has been over 100 days since the house passed the f.a.a. bill and they have never even appointed conferees. we have done that. they have not. the senate is ready to break this deadlock, but we have not been able to engage in a former process because there are no house conferees. the senate includes all of its
4:28pm
conferees and negotiations and works through each provision to reach bipartisan agreement, and as i indicated earlier, we have gone from 281 down to ten issues. the house only had chairman mica , and now the house leadership calling the shots on each negotiated item. it makes it very awkward to negotiate anything at all. if the house really wants to move forward, it is time they appointed conferees. they will be able to determine where things stand and what remains in the f.a.a. reauthorization bill, but the senate cannot accept the house sending over items that remain to be negotiated in a piecemeal fashion as part of this f.a.a. extension. that is what they have done, or, for that matter, any future extensions, and it may come to that. the american people expect congress to work together to reach an agreement. that's why -- that's what i have
4:29pm
been in the senate for, is to reach agreement, not to have 20 extensions over four years. what an embarrassment chopping the f.a.a. continuity up into tiny little chunks so they can't even let out contracts and can't proceed with their work. the american people expect congress to reach agreement, and i believe that we can do this, but it's going to take some more time. if the house continues its attempt to hold the senate hostage on the f.a.a. extension, it will result in a partial shutdown of the federal aviation administration, and people need to consider that very seriously. a majority of the senate is more than willing to pass a clean f.a.a. extension of any length. this week, i introduced s. 1387 with senator kay bailey hutchison and senator max baucus
4:30pm
to do just that. our bill would give the f.a.a. the necessary funding and authority to keep the agency functioning into september. i think september 16. i have also indicated to the house on at least four occasions that i'm willing to drop all of the remaining controversial items that are not included in both bills in order to get us close to a deal. that offer, seemingly reasonable, has been consistently rejected by the house. despite the house's lack of appointing conferees on the f.a.a. bill, i do remain committed to completing this process in a proper and responsible way. again, after spending four years trying to complete this bill, nobody wants a resolution more than i do. it's not the way to run a train, much less an airline. i believe that we can finish a
4:31pm
comprehensive f.a.a. reauthorization by august if the house will come back to the negotiating table in good faith. i'm willing to sit down at the table any time to move the larger f.a.a. package forward or to develop an f.a.a. extension that can pass the congress. we will try to move a clean f.a.a. extension through the senate. and having said that, i ask the the other members to support this effort when that happens, which will be very shortly, and allow us to complete the f.a.a. reauthorization bill. i'll just say a word on the consequences of an f.a.a. shutdown. an expiration of the f.a.a. will shut down any activities funded out of f.a.a.'s four capital accounts, which i will not name.
4:32pm
this includes a program to halt the airport improvement program which provides $3.5 billion for infrastructure projects at airports annually and is estimateed to support more than 150,000 jobs a year now. nonessential employees will be furloughed and approximately 4,000 f.a.a. employees will be among them. if the f.a.a. authorities do expire, the agency estimates that it could only operate air traffic and support services through about mid-august, 2011. this would mean services to smaller areas like mine -- west virginia -- would need to draw down in the near term so that the f.a.a. can focus on primary traffic. that's not something that we would look forward to. a shutdown quickly starts to have safety implications too. safety projects at airports. it also places a hold on testing
4:33pm
and implementation of nextgen efforts, the modern g.p.s.-based system, which is clear, precise, and reads where airplanes are and how fast they can land one after the other with great precision. and fewer personnel will be available to dispatch to problem areas. so these are real concerns. madam president, i hope my colleagues will hear what i've said. i hope my colleagues in the other body will hear what i've said. i want to proceed in good faith. i have tried. itit has not worked. the american people are suffering as a result of it, particularly the aviation industry and the federal aviation administration. i would hope that my speech will
4:34pm
be listened to. i thank the presiding officer and yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia is recognized. mrs. mccaskill: while the distinguished chairman of the commerce committee and my dear -- mr. isakson: while my friend is on the floor, i share with the chairman, as he knows, because we talked in the well last night about our desire for an extension of a reauthorization of f.a.a. and how important that is to our economy. but the difficulty between the house and the senate in part has been over the house version as as -- versus the senate's unwillingness to establish any negotiation with the n.m.b. i have the negotiator or runner or whatever you want to call it between the two bodies, mr. mika and mr. rockefeller. as the chairman knows, about a month ago i delivered though leader reid a comprehensive list
4:35pm
of requests that the house had asked for in the reauthorization. senator reid and his staff, after pondering it for a few days, responded that they would not agree to any of the changes that were requested. i then went back and said, well, let me see what i can do to try and find some common ground and came back with a recommendation that i gave to chairman rockefeller that said just give judicial review to the airlines, which the unions already have, to have a balanced treatment in terms of a response, in terms of n.m.b. regulation. as it turns out, that was an unsatisfactory offer. the house, i think, still insists that some provision addressing the national mediation board should be included in the authorization, and that -- and if i'm incorrect in any way, please, mr. chairman, correct me. i think that is the difficulty in getting to a conclusion. from my standpoint, i want everyone to understand clearly i agree with the chairman that we
4:36pm
need a reauthorization. but i also think we need a balanced playing field with n.m.b., and i continue to work to try and find some common ground to see to it that the aviation industry can have judicial review just as the unions already have with regard to n.m.b. regulations and n.m.b. rulings. i just wanted that to be indoctrinated into the record and i thank the chairman for letting me have a little time. mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the republican leader is recognized. mr. mcconnell: madam president, it's been reported that the white house has made an internal decision not to send congress three long pending free trade agreements before the august recess. so i would just like to reiterate that i for one remain as committed as ever to passing these job-creating agreements into law as quickly as possible given the condition of our economy. as i see it, every sticking point seems to have been
4:37pm
resolved. the white house initially said it needed a deal on trade adjustment assistance on the substance. i think they've gotten that. then they said they needed an agreement on the process. i believe we've achieved that. i myself am personally committed to working with the majority leader to ensure a fair floor process for my members so they have an opportunity to try to amend a stand had been alone -- a stand-alone trade adjustment assistance bill separate from the three free trade agreements. that way if the administration can generate the votes it needs, t.a.a. will pass on its merits. so i think we've got a pretty clear path in front of us at this point. i recognize that the calendar is tight, and we've got a lot of other urgent business to take care of around here. so i don't expect to finish any of this before august. still, i think the administration should submit the agreements anyway as a show of
4:38pm
good faith with our trading allies in korea, colombia and panama. then we can work to pass them when we return. the administration's received everything it has publicly asked for on t.a.a. it's time to show they're serious about creating jobs and getting those deals done. madam president, this is an opportunity to create jobs in america for americans. it was snarled needlessly by the suggestion that t.a.a. be dropped inside these agreements. that now has been cleared up. we're going to have an opportunity to ratify all three of these trade agreements, which will be good for the country, and the t.a.a. issue will be dealt with separately. and all indications are that the votes are there to pass the t.a.a. bill. with that, madam president, i yield the floor.
4:39pm
mr. grassley: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa is recognized. mr. grassley: i come to the senate floor to tell my colleagues why i support the issue of cap and cut and balance. on august 2, our nation will be unable to borrow money to meet our current obligations. we've known for awhile that this was coming. our annual deficits have been near $1.5 trillion for the past two years, and it's going to be that large this year as well.
4:40pm
with deficits of that size, no one should be surprised that we've hit the debt ceiling, which raises the question then: what has the president offered to confront this looming crisis? i ask that question because people expect a president to lead, and we have an executive budget and an executive budget law since i think the 1920's has put the president in lead on these issues. so i ask another question: what has the senate democratic majority done to address our deficit crisis, because it is the responsibility of a majority to present a budget to the congress of the united states, and we have not had a budget resolution for more than 800 days now. so i think you can draw the conclusion whether or not it's
4:41pm
the president of the united states or the senate majority, the answer is simple: not much has been done. last year president obama virtually ignored his own deficit-reduction commission. now remember, in february 2010, the president appointed a lot of people to a deficit-reduction commission to give us a plan of what could be done about this fiscal situation that has happened so dramatically in the last two years. and there was no recognition in december when they reported that the president said that that's the thing that should be done in this country. so this year he did offer a budget, as he has to do under the budget law, in february;
4:42pm
february 14 of this year. and that budget would increase spending, increase taxes and still add trillions to our debt. now, everybody would think that a democrat president suggesting a budget would be well received in a body that's controlled by the same political party. but that budget that he presented in february was so ill conceived and out of touch that it was defeated here in the united states senate by a vote of 97-0. now let me emphasize that by saying not a single senator of either party voted for president obama's budget. and, of course, that's very obvious that every member of the president's party said no to the president's budget. for most of this year, president obama said we should raise the
4:43pm
debt ceiling without taking any measures to address our long-term deficits and debt. it was a position of this administration that congress should simply rubber stamp, rubber stamp another debt ceiling hike with no plan in place to reduce our deficits. that plan was voted on in the house and was soundly rejected there as well. all of the republicans and nearly half of the democrats in the other body voted against increasing the debt ceiling without deficit reduction. so it seems to me that we have a lot of bipartisan agreement when people say we have no bipartisan cooperation, that with the senate's vote on the president's budget and in the other body,
4:44pm
with nearly half of the democrats opposing a debt ceiling without deficit reduction that, there's a clear understanding in a bipartisan way in the senate that the president's budget spends too much, taxes too much, and leaves too much debt. and in the house of representatives there,'s a strong feeling that's bipartisan that if you're going to have a debt ceiling increase, there needs to be deficit reduction. so, don't ever say that there's not bipartisan agreement because it's been expressed in votes in both houses. the president then gave a budget speech in april, and i presume he recognized the inadequacy of his budget presented to congress in february. he outlined a budget framework that would reduce that budget
4:45pm
that was presented in february by $4 trillion over 12 years. so the president very quickly, in about 60 days, came to the conclusion that he, his budget was out of step with what people of even his own political party felt was necessary. so he could find $4 trillion to trim out of it, but, you know what he hasn't done yet that a president ought to do in an environment of where we have an executive budget process, he still hasn't presented the details of that budget. now, the director of the congressional budget office -- that's dr. elmendorf, we all know, a person that is a devoted public servant to doing what's intellectually right all the time when he tries to help us decide how much money taxes are going to bring in or how much
4:46pm
ought to be spent on a particular policy of congress -- dr. elmendorf was asked if he could estimate the budget impact of this new framework that came with the president's speech on april the 13th, which speak he came to the conclusion you ought to spend $4 trillion less than what he thought he could spend on valentine's day, and that's not necessarily a valentine's gift, in his february budget. and this is what the c.b.o. director today in regard to that april 13 speech. he said, "we don't estimate speeches. we need much more specificity than was provided in that speech for us to do our analysis." but so far the president hasn't provided those specifics. we've heard a lot from the white house about the need to come up
4:47pm
with a plan, when the president hasn't present add plan. but the white house itself has never offered a single debt ceiling proposal for a vote. and the senate democratic leadership has also seriously shirked its responsibilities because, as i've said once before today, they haven't put forward a budget in more than 800 days, even though the law requires that they do it. every family in america that works hard and sacrifices to pay their bills ought to be ashamed at the failure of the u.s. senate to offer a budget, in violation of the law. in sharp contrast, members of the house fulfilled their responsibility and passed a budget h earlier this year, ando the very same majority party in this body that hasn't present add budget for 800 days has done
4:48pm
nothing in regard to the house budget but demagogue it. they can't find time to compile their own budget. they've sure found time to make speeches that are derogatory about the house budget, and the house budget then obviously means that the house of representatives did their responsibility under the law by presenting a budget and adopting a budget. while members on the other side come to the floor to oppose and demagogue the bill that i'm speaking about, the cut, cap, and balance bill, they've offered no plan of their own. while there is now a framework from the so-called gang of six, their plan also lacks any specificity. perhaps that's a political
4:49pm
strategy on the other side -- that the other side has chosen. votersed and the american people can't be -- voters and the american people can't be upside with a position you've taken if you haven't taken a position. just like a rule of political leaders, you never get in trouble for a speech you don't give. perhaps this strategy may be politically expedient, but it's going to drive our economy and our country off the cliff. the strategy of placing a higher priority on the next election rather than the economic and fiscal situation facing our country is how we got into this mess. based on the lack of proposals put forgot by the other side -- put forth by the other side, one could assume that they're perfectly content borrowing 40 cents for every dollar that we spend. are they pleased with the deficits of $1.5 trillion
4:50pm
annually? well, you could conclude they must be because they haven't offered a plan to reduce the deficits. on top of that, they've argued for tax increases. they must believe that we have a revenue problem. according to their argument, the american people are not handing over enough of their money to satisfy the needs of washington to spend. and i'm not sure you can ever tax high enough to satisfy the attitude here in congress to spend money. in fact, if somebody would tell me, how much money do you really need from the american people to satisfy your appetite to spend and i could get a limit on it -- it was a hard limit -- i might even vote for it, because i'd like to have people say they're finally satisfied that government ought to be so big, but no bigger. but i never get those sort of broad statements here in the
4:51pm
congress, and so i've come to the conclusion that you can't raise taxes high enough to satisfy the appetite to spend money. but, because we're borrowing money, the economy isn't growing and jobs aren't being created, is because washington is spending too much money. of course, the other side believes that the economy is not growing because we aren't spending enough money in congress. remember, just a few years ago they passed the $800 billion so-called stimulus as a means to keep unemployment below 8%. that was early february 2009. that's when speaker pell low say said, yes, we wrote the bill. we won the election. so employment shot above 8% right away, got up to over 10%.
4:52pm
it's at 9.3%. so the promise of an $830 billion stimulus keeping unemployment under 8% -- it just didn't work. so, what do you do under those circumstances? you borrow money and spend it on government programs. and where is the u.s. economy today? well, say it again. 9.2% unemployment, more than 14 million americans out of work. but now the national debt is more than $14.3 trillion. this experiment, called the stimulus, proved that government spending does not stimulate private-sector job growth. you why? because government -- you know why? because government consumers wealth; government doesn't create wealth. the only jobs created by groft government jobs. they don't add value to the economy. they are a cost to the economy. now, do you have to have government? yes. do you have to have government employees? of course you have to have
4:53pm
government employees. but to think you can hire more government employees and create wealth is false. the fact is, we're in a hole that we're in because of our spending problems, not because we don't have enough revenue coming in. now look at this historically. spending has averaged a 20% of our gross national product. that's probably over four or five decades. today and in recent years, spending has grown now in the last couple years to 25% of gross national product. this level of spending cannot be sustained, particularly when revenue has historically been around 18% of g.d.p. on this very day, it's less than 18%. because the economy is not growing. for my colleagues who think that
4:54pm
we can reduce deficits by increasing taxes, they need to understand that it just doesn't work. professor vetter of ohio university studied tax increases and spending for more than two decades. in the late-1980's he coauthored with lowell galloway a research paper for a committee of congress called "the joint economic committee" that found that every new dollar of new taxes led to more than $1 of new spending by the congress. in other words, raise taxes a dlarks you think it would go to the bottom line to reduce the deficit. but, no, $1 coming in you spend more than $1, so you make the deficit worse. professor vetter has now updated his study. specifically, he found, "over the entire post-world war ii era
4:55pm
through 2009, each dollar of new tax revenue was associated with $1.17 of new spending." end of quote. so, history proves tax increases result in spending increases. we know that an increase in taxes is not, then, going to reduce the deficit. instead of going to the bottom line, tax increases are a license for washington to spend even more. history also shows that tax increases don't increase revenues. everybody thinks that if you raise the marginal tax rate, you'll bring in more revenue. but the taxpayers, workers, and investors of this country are smarter than members of congress are, who believe that. regardless of the rate over the past 40 years -- and i'm sorry i
4:56pm
don't have a chart with me -- i had a chart with me over a week ago that demonstrated this, but if you listen chosely, you'll go to the message of the chart -- you'll get the message of the chart. regardless of the rate of taxation, over the past 40 years, revenue has averaged about 18% of gross domestic product. higher tax rates just pry incentives for taxpayers to invest and raise mona n. ways that reduce that are tax -- in ways that reduce tax liability. we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem. that's why i'm supporting the only plan that has been put forth to address our problem, the cut, cap, and balance bill passed the house with the support of 234 members. this plan is the only plan offered to cut spending in the near-term. we need to halt and reverse the trend of the last two years when government spending increased by 22%, not even counting the
4:57pm
failed stimulus program of another $830 billion. and you can't increase expenditures 22% when the growth of the economy is about 2%. it just doesn't add up. that's how you get into trouble. and that's how we have increased a 50-year average of the national debt being about 35% of gross national product. after two years it's now 65% and it is on a path to go 90%, and you know where greece right now, when they're over 100%. it's going to lead to frailure . we're on that path right now and we've got to preempt that. it will also impose budget caps. this bill before us will impose budget caps to get our spending down to a manageable level compared to our gross domestic product. finally, this would impose a balanced budget amendment to our constitution, similar to what --
4:58pm
i don't know whether it was 46 states or 49 states, but most states have a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. and, you know what? it works. got to stop to think, if a state that's as liberal as new york, if they can elect a liberal governor and if he can cut, cut, cut to live within that constitutional requirement of a balanced budget, it ought to be something that we can do here in washington, d.c. it is a discipline that works in the states. it is a discipline that we need through our constitution. so when you take an oath to uphold the constitution, the requirement of a balanced budget is suggest swear to and you'll see that you deliver on your promise to the american people. so it only makes sense to impose a requirement that we live within our means. washington proves again and again that it needs this kind of
4:59pm
discipline. i'd say to my colleagues, if you don't support this plan, then offer your own plan. you know that the debt limit must be increased, but you also know that we must take action to reduce the future levels of deficits and begin to bring our debt down. where is your plan to do that? where is your budget resolution that hasn't been presented in the last 800 or more days to the united states senate, violating the budget law? how will you meet the responsibilities then of being elected to this office where you take an oath to uphold the laws and the constitution of the united states? the trajectory of our debt is alarming. it will soon undermine our economy. and our economic growth. if we do nothing, our children and grandchildren will have fewer economic opportunities than we have had. so this isn't just an economic

Terms of Use (10 Mar 2001)